NIOSH Agricultural Safety and Health Centers
The Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education, and Prevention represent a major NIOSH effort to protect the health and safety of agricultural workers and their families. The NIOSH Agricultural Centers were established as part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) / NIOSH Agricultural Health and Safety Initiative in 1990. The Centers were established by cooperative agreement to conduct research, education, and prevention projects to address the nations pressing agricultural health and safety problems. Geographically, the Centers are distributed throughout the nation to be responsive to the agricultural health and safety issues unique to the different regions.
- Develop and conduct research related to the prevention of occupational disease and injury of agricultural workers and their families.
- Develop and implement model educational outreach, and intervention programs promoting agricultural health and safety for agricultural workers and their families.
- Develop and evaluate control technologies to prevent illness and injuries among agricultural workers and their families.
- Develop and implement model programs for the prevention of illness and injury among agricultural workers and their families.
- Evaluate agricultural injury and disease prevention and educational materials and programs implemented by the Center.
- Provide consultation and/or training to researchers, health and safety professionals, graduate/professional students, and agricultural extension agents and others in a position to improve the health and safety of agricultural workers.
- Develop linkages and communication with other governmental and non-governmental bodies involved in agricultural health and safety with special emphasis on communications with other CDC/NIOSH sponsored agricultural health and safety programs.
Brief descriptions of the currently funded NIOSH Ag Centers provide an overview of the diverse activities being undertaken. Ag Centers have ongoing pilot/feasibility project program that cannot be adequately covered here. For those desiring to learn more, we have provided a link to each Ag Center website further down the page.
The High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (HICAHS) at Colorado State University has an outstanding record of service to Public Health Region VIII (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming). HICAHS has been nationally and internationally recognized for research on organic dust aerosols and respiratory disease, pesticides and tractor roll-over protective structures (ROPS) engineering. Education and outreach, built on strong partnership with Cooperative Extension, have served as national models. The mission of HICAHS is to reduce morbidity and mortality in the agricultural population and translate research knowledge into community action. This Center has also coordinated the Agriculture Center Evaluation Project.
Individual HICAHS Center Projects
- Injury Risk Analysis in Large-Herd Dairy Parlors
This novel project is the first US study to address the health and safety of large-herd dairy workers. It is significant because of the national trend toward mass milk production operations and the lack of research addressing these new work environments. The long-term goal is to reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal injuries among dairy workers. Four primary aims are being addressed: 1) identify upper extremity risk factors associated with musculoskeletal symptoms (MSS) among workers in parallel, rotary, and herringbone style dairy parlors, 2) assess the risk for traumatic injury as related to worker body positioning and animal behavior in different parlor configurations, 3) determine the 12-month prevalence of MSS among workers in three types of dairy parlors, 4) determine the association between parlor exposures or personal factors with prevalent MSS among workers, and 5) identify safety interventions through active participatory partnerships with dairy operators. These aims are being accomplished using worker surveys (N=444), analysis of milking tasks from dairy parlors (N=50 dairy parlors) and focus groups with parlor workers (N=108). Multivariate analysis is being used to test the hypothesis that upper extremity MSS are associated with dairy parlor work stressors after controlling for potential confounding variables.
- Prospective Study of Occupational Lung Disease and Endotoxin Exposure in Naive (New) Dairy Workers
More than 1M dairy workers nationwide, mostly Hispanic, are at risk for respiratory disease from organic dust aerosols. The goals are to: characterize worker exposure to endotoxin-containing aerosols and evaluate respiratory outcomes including symptoms, pulmonary function and cellular/immune markers (cytokines) of inflammation (n = 184); compare exposures and health outcomes among Colorado dairy workers to a comparable study of California dairy workers (n = 200) (conducted by the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety); re-evaluate a subset of new (naive) workers (n = 92) at 1 month (n = 92) and at 1 year (n = 46) following their first assessment; evaluate whether endotoxin assay or GC/MS is the best predictor of biomarkers, symptoms, and changes in pulmonary function; survey genetic markers related to lung disease and endotoxin etiology TLR4, TLR9, MD2, CD14 gene mutations, and polymorphisms of IL1-RN, and TNF-alpha.6); and identify job factors associated with highest exposures/greatest risk of respiratory disease. HICAHS is working closely with the Integrated Livestock Management Initiative and the dairy industry to develop and disseminate cost-effective, culturally acceptable interventions.
Enhancing Translation and Dissemination through Agricultural Partners
The goal is to boost the regional research to practice (r2p) of new knowledge and technologies in agricultural health and safety. The project builds on a foundation of established agricultural partnerships and a team of cross-disciplinary investigators from occupational health, animal science, technical communication, and occupational health psychology. Knowledge generated from community-initiated health and safety programs and from HICAHS research projects are being translated into user-specific media and disseminated using a participatory Agricultural Extension Model. Specific aims include: 1) augment regional agricultural health and safety education programs and 2) enhance the translation and dissemination of knowledge developed from agricultural community-initiated small grants and from HICAHS research to agricultural stakeholders. The project team is collaborating with agricultural organizations that have received community-initiated small grants and with HICAHS researchers involved in prevention and intervention projects, to collectively develop, revise, and execute their respective translation and dissemination activities.
The Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (GPCAH) at The University of Iowa is a nationally recognized public health resource that develops and implements programs of research, intervention, translation, education, and outreach with the long-term goal of preventing occupational injury and illness among agricultural workers and their families.
The overall goals of the center are to:
- Conduct a multidisciplinary agricultural health and safety research program targeting national research priorities for agricultural health and safety.
- Develop and evaluate educational, outreach, and intervention programs to prevent disease, injury, and hazardous exposures among agricultural workers and their family members.
- Serve as a national resource for delivery of current agricultural health knowledge and expertise to industrial hygienists, epidemiologists, ergonomists, veterinarians, and physicians to enhance the national capacity to meet the agricultural health needs of the nation.
- Provide agricultural health and safety technical assistance and consultation in research methods, training, and education to health and safety professionals and community-based agricultural health organizations.
- Maintain and strengthen linkages with health professionals in academic institutions, state and federal agencies, and international organizations to promote agricultural health and safety research, training, and prevention programs
Individual Great Plains AG Center Projects
- Determinants of Gas and Dust Exposures Among Swine Workers
The long-term goal of this project is to protect workers from inhalation hazards in swine confinement buildings. The primary objective is to identify tasks and building characteristics that cause significantly elevated concentrations of gases and dusts in these buildings.
- The Keokuk County Rural Health Study: The Epidemiology of Agricultural Diseases and Injuries
The Keokuk County Rural Health Study (KCRHS) is a population-based, prospective study on the health status and environmental exposures of a large, stratified, random sample of residents in a rural Iowa County. The KCRHS focuses on primarily on injury and respiratory disease. The overall goal is to provide the scientific basis for agricultural disease and injury interventions through evaluations of health outcomes and risk factors.
- Building Capacity of Health and Safety Professionals
This project provides specialized training for health care professionals who treat farmers and their family members. Certificate and graduate programs at the University of Iowa also address the critical shortage of agricultural occupational health and safety researchers and program leaders by educating agricultural safety and health instructors. These “train the trainer” strategies support translation of research information into practice and help to disseminate educational and intervention programs. The project recently experienced another dramatic increase in activity. This was primarily due to incorporating distant learning methods (online courses and the use of systems such as Adobe Connect) to bring speakers to more distant sites (Vermont, Illinois) where the program was given.
NCCRAHS strives to enhance the health and safety of all children exposed to hazards associated with agricultural work and rural environments. The major focus is to translate research findings into practice and to move childhood agricultural safety knowledge into practice through sustained partnerships. The Center conducts research, education, intervention, prevention, translation and outreach activities to enhance the health and safety of children exposed to hazards associated with agricultural work and rural environments. The Center provides a wide range of services related to children and adolescents living in rural areas and working in agricultural environments. NCCRAHS has a track record of synergistic efforts addressing national priorities while involving a range of stake-holders. Since 1997, NCCRAHS has been a leader in: (a) building new partnerships, (b) conducting research with practical implications, (c) generating consensus on complex issues, and (d) producing resources deemed useful to multiple audiences.
Individual Child Ag Center Projects
- Economics of Youth Farm Labor and Farm Injuries
This project is assessing the economics of youth working on family farms and the economic consequences of farm youth injury. Specific aims are to: estimate the number and cost of injuries and deaths of youth while working or living on a farm, with breakdowns by type of farm, by region, and by major source/event (e.g., tractor injury); estimate the permanent disability resulting from youth injury on farms; estimate the financial impact of youth injury on farm families for some types of farms; and compare injury rates and severities for hired youth, family youth, and adults doing farm work and analyze the cost-effectiveness of not letting children work on some type of farms from the perspective of a farm family.
- Motivating Farm Parents to Create Safe Play Areas on Farms: A Randomized Controlled Trial
This project is testing incentives to overcome barriers to building safe play areas. This project is a randomized controlled trial among three groups to evaluate the effectiveness of specific interventions to motivate parents to build safe play areas. An innovative element is a three-way partnership between a large insurance company, the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, and the University of Iowa.
- Integrating Safety Guidelines for Adolescent Farm Workers into Field Supervisors' Practice
The long-term goal of this project is to improve agricultural supervisors' practices related to training and supervision of adolescent farm workers. This project uses newly developed Safety Guidelines for Hired Adolescent Farm Workers resources and currently existing training venues to test a new method for conducting training among field supervisors in production agriculture. Results from this project will demonstrate whether or not there is potential for influencing changes in owner/employer expectations of their field supervisors who train and supervise adolescent farm workers.
- Stakeholder Communications
The goal is to facilitate dissemination of outreach, intervention, education, and research outputs to a diverse, inclusive group of stakeholders. The specific aims will be accomplished by Children's Center staff and collaboration with internal and external partners proficient in maximizing dissemination to all potential audiences.
- Childhood Agricultural Safety Network
The overall goal is to strengthen partnerships and collaborative initiatives involving the agricultural community, child injury prevention organizations, and minority-serving associations through an effective Childhood Agricultural Safety Network (CASN). An effective Childhood Agricultural Safety Network can advocate for major changes on behalf of children who live and/or work on farms. CASN members serve as Knowledge Translation Advisors. Various Center projects call on CASN members to provide general guidance or participate as venues for translation of findings into appropriate avenues for outreach and community level interventions.
- Blueprint for Knowledge Translation
The goal is to move state-of-the-art knowledge on childhood agricultural injury prevention into practice. Specific aims are to: gather and synthesize findings from childhood agricultural injury research and interventions that have been conducted since the 2001 Summit on Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention; identify strengths and weaknesses of known interventions based on: a) injury data, b) different audiences, and c) different levels of the Ecological Model; engage researchers, practitioners, and other stakeholders in developing a Blueprint for Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Knowledge Translation; activate the Blueprint through intermediaries and innovative technological communication strategies; and continually assess, modify, and expand translation opportunities based on participant feedback and updated knowledge regarding effective interventions and injury trends.
The Northeast Center (NEC) is a collaborative effort of investigators from institutions throughout the New England and Mid-Atlantic States. It is based at the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) in Cooperstown, NY. NYCAMH was established by the New York Legislature in 1987 with funding to address research, educational and clinical consultative needs related to occupational problems in New York farming. Serving a twelve-state region from Maine through Delaware, NEC promotes farm health and safety research, education, and prevention activities. In partnership with other NIOSH centers, state and federal agencies, land grant universities, medical centers, and farm groups, NYCAMH/NEC uses injury and illness research findings to develop preventive teaching, educational health screening, demonstrations, interventions, engineering solutions and other related activities. NYCAMH/NEC's target audience includes: farmers and farm families, high school and college agricultural classes, vocational agriculture teachers, agribusiness and farm organizations, health professionals, engineers and safety specialists, members of the media and policy makers.
Individual Northeast Center Projects
- Social Marketing of Rollover Protection in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania
The long-term goal of the tractor initiative at the NEC is a reduction in fatalities and serious injuries due to tractor rollovers on Northeastern farms. The project has had an amazing response, and continues to be quite active. Farmers may apply for 70% of all costs (up to $765 maximum) for one tractor in this fourth year of the rebate program. To date there have been over 2607 inquiries about the program, and over 862 have purchased their ROPS with program assistance. Articles highlighting these programs and tractor safety efforts have been published in USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, as well as many popular farm journals and regional and local newspapers. Additionally, in a recent survey, 12% of the farmers responding reported dangerous incidents where death or injury was likely avoided due to the ROPS and seatbelt. Recent efforts have been dedicated to launching programs in VT, NY and PA, evaluating program impacts in all four states, ensuring rebate funding through state legislatures, agribusinesses, insurance companies and farm organizations and developing a risk assessment tool that will function to remind farmers to use protected tractors for dangerous tasks. Considerable energy has also been dedicated to documenting ROPS parts and installation issues and working with manufacturers to address these issues. Upcoming efforts will be directed towards implementing the risk assessment tool and the associated safety campaign, evaluating program impacts, and working with private industry and farm organizations to sustain the viability of these programs long-term. Preliminary evaluations indicate that these efforts have and will continue to increase the installation of these proven safety devices on unprotected tractors with attendant prevention of death and serious injuries.
- Research to Practice for Safe Entry into Confined Space Manure Storages
The long-term goal of this project is to reduce injuries and deaths related to asphyxiation and poisoning of personnel as a consequence of entering improperely ventilated on-farm confined-space manure storages. The specific objectives are to 1) develop and obtain approval/adoption of an ASABE/ANSI consensus safety standard for pre-entry ventilation of on-farm confined-space manure storages, and 2) develop an outreach educational program to promote implementation of the provisions of the consensus safety standard by a wide range of key clientele including farm families, emergency service providers, and dsigners, manufacturers, distributers, or installers of on-farm confined-space manure storages. Both have been achieved by the research team.
- Northeast Community Collaborations for Farmworker Health and Safety
The Northeast Community Collaborations for Farmworker Health and Safety Project is a participatory-based occupational health intervention in a community of migrant farmworkers in the Connecticut River Valley (CRV). It is being networked with existing community-based initiatives in Maine and New York. The intervention program builds on existing relationships and strengths among the coalition members to support an alliance of community teams with the capacity to intervene locally on recognized occupational health threats throughout the region.The project is evaluating the effect on previously observed rates of occupational injury or illness within the local community. Based upon priority decisions by a team of workers and employers hygiene and access to handwashing in the fields have been pursued in recent years. Additional work on noise exposure and back injury has been undertaken.
- Statewide Surveillance of New York State Farm Injuries
The surveillance research has identified the strengths and weaknesses of several different existing sources of farm injury data, and proposes a method of combining them to establish one comprehensive surveillance system that will make it possible to track fatal and non-fatal farm injury in a single system. In the past five years, researchers have focused on evaluating the potential of pre-hospital ambulance reports, and have established that non-fatal farm injury in New York state occurs roughly 14 times more often than fatal injury. In the next five years, researchers will further develop a surveillance model that may have utility for occupational injury surveillance across the U.S.
Other Northeast Center Translation Projects
The NEC ergonomic apple bucket has been extensively redesigned and is undergoing further orchard testing. The belt and bucket are undergoing further adjustments as advised by farmworkers in the orchard. At the same time, a new instrument that attaches to the apple bin is being developed and piloted, whose purpose is to reduce back strain while bending to unload the bin. Concurrently, an orchard safety video is being produced, that focuses primarily on ladder safety, ergonomics and use of appropriate eyewear.
The NEC Migrant Clinicians Manual was designed to enhance the occupational health skills of physicians and nurses working in migrant health clinics. In its current revision (2011), researchers are collaborating from several NIOSH agricultural centers to develop similar farmworker profiles, which describe common health issues for migrant and seasonal workers in particular agricultural sectors. During this revision, the website is being expanded, and its technical capabilities greatly enhanced.
The Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health (PNASH) Center is located at the University of Washington. It serves Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington with the goal of reducing occupational disease and injury among agricultural operators, workers and their families. The Center is focused on safe and sustainable agricultural workplaces and communities with an emphasis on injury and illness prevention, especially among hired laborers, migrant/seasonal workers, and children. Their approaches include:
- Working in partnership with employers, workers, agencies and other research and service organizations.
- Developing innovative research and intervention programs that focus on problem solving.
- Taking solutions to the workplace through training, outreach, and participatory research.
Individual PNASH Center Projects
- Risk Factors for Cholinesterase (ChE) Depression Among Pesticide Handlers
This study is identifying and characterizing risk factors for ChE depression among handlers participating in the Washington State ChE monitoring program. To date, a total of 265 agricultural pesticide handlers have been enrolled in this study. During the past year, 48 handlers participated in the study, with a total of 50 visits (i.e., occasions when participating handlers completed the survey and/or provided a blood sample for PON1 testing). Self-reported information about potential sources of pesticide exposure was collected for a total of 50 participant visits during the 2010 spray season. Descriptive analyses of survey data from 154 study participants during the 2006-2007 spray seasons have been performed, and there is an ongoing analysis of the 2006-2010 data that will be completed by the end of 2010. Identified risk factors will be evaluated in terms of their impact on the prevalence of ChE depression and the prevalence of reported risk factors among participating handlers.
- Neurobehavioral Assessment of Pesticide Exposure in Children
The objective of this project is to identify and characterize organo-phosphorus pesticide exposure in the homes of pesticide mixer-loader-applicators and to relate those exposures to neurobehavioral performance of children of pesticide applicators over two years in a longitudinal study that examines neurodevelopmental changes. Two hundred and forty five families have completed home interviews and neurobehavioral testing. Dust samples were collected from homes where carpet was available (N=254). These samples are being analyzed at the University of Washington laboratory. Families tested in the winter of 2009 have been contacted and asked to complete questionnaires assessing pesticide exposure in the past year and to collect a second dust sample from their home. Eighty two of these families have completed the second year interview and neurobehavioral test session. Computer-based training (Safe Workplace, Safe Home/Sitio de Trabajo Seguro, Hogar Seguro) has been developed, and was given to 470 adults at the Hood River County Fair during 2010. Pre- and post-test knowledge was assessed along with demographic information.
- Enhancements to Cholinesterase Monitoring: Oxime Reactivation and OP-Che Adducts
This project is developing and validating two analytical methods to measure the interaction of OP pesticides with cholinesterase enzyme. The assays developed during this project will be incorporated into the OP pesticide exposure monitoring in Washington State.
- Interventions to Minimize Worker and Family Pesticide Exposures
The overall objective of this five-year project is to identify and test practical interventions that reduce pesticide exposures of agricultural workers and their families, and to disseminate these "best practices" into agricultural workplaces and workers' homes in the Northwest and around the nation. In Year 4, 32 practical solutions were identified by worksite walk-through evaluations and personal interviews with the farm mangers and pesticide handlers. All solutions were innovations developed on the farm. Twenty practical solutions have been evaluated by 29 pesticide safety educators and orchard managers (in English and Spanish). Solutions have also been evaluated by Hispanic pesticide handler audiences using an audience response system. The project has validated a quantitative method for using fluorescent tracers to evaluate application technologies.
- Introducing a Cholinesterase Test Kit into Clinical Practice
The Test-mate™ kit has been shown to be an effective, cost-efficient test that can provide rapid results for workers - important if they are shown to have a ChE depression. The center is bringing this technology to clinical providers and allowing them to conduct “on-the-spot” evaluations of workers.
- Storytelling to Translate Agriculture Health and Safety Research
This project uses the tradition of storytelling to translate health and safety research findings and education efforts for agriculture producers and workers on ladder injuries and heat stress. Three-minute Story Corps narratives were developed for placement in communication channels: manure pit entrapment, harrow rollover, combine amputation, fatal encounter with a bull, cervical spine fracture from hay bale blow, ladder fall, ATV rollovers (one fatal and one near miss), child finger-burn from a hay baler, and a tractor (with ROPS) rollover incident. Four comic dramas demonstrating the risk factors, signs and symptoms, and treatment of 5 heat illnesses were aired on two Spanish-language stations covering the northwestern and central eastern regions of the state. Both stations aired the novelas on a rotating basis at least three times per day.
- Assessment of Job-related Exposures for Diarrheal Illness in Farmworker Families
The primary objective is to assess job-related exposures for farmworkers and their families to three common zoonotic bacterial pathogens (Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., and E.coli O157:H7). The specific aims are to: adapt, develop, and/or validate methods for sampling of bacteria on surfaces (e.g. vehicle and household carpets, worker apparel, and other workplace, vehicle and household surfaces); assess fomitic surfaces, bioaerosol, and water as workplace exposure pathways; assess the paraoccupational (or take-home) exposure pathway for three zoonotic pathogens (Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., and E.coli O157:H7); and assess residential proximity to job-related livestock operations as an exposure pathway.
The Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention at the University of Kentucky is dedicated to developing and promoting transdisciplinary approaches to the occupational safety and health of agricultural workers and their families. The Center serves stakeholders in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, West Virginia, and Virginia. Recognizing the multiple linkages affecting public health (IOM, 2001) and the importance of strategic systems thinking when addressing challenges in public health, the Center’s investigators and staff work closely with colleagues from the UK Colleges of Medicine, Agriculture, Nursing, Education, Communications, and Engineering, and with researchers and practitioners from various external agencies and institutions. This transdisciplinary approach lends an array of resources and skills to the Center and enhances its capabilities in research, education, outreach, and prevention. The Southeast Center continues to focus on special populations; emerging, ignored or persistent agricultural safety and health concerns in the Southeast; cost analysis of tractor and other farm-related injuries; and education/training of public health professionals with an emphasis on agricultural safety and health.
Selected Southeast Center Projects
- Poison Center Surveillance of Agricultural Poisonings
This 3-year research project involved six poison control centers in Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and Alabama. The participating sites tested a modification to the Toxicall® surveillance software system that is used in more than 70 percent of U.S. poison control centers. The modification was designed to improve the quantity and the quality of data obtained on agriculture-related pesticide exposures. Of 7,522 poison control center calls received involving 39 study pesticides, the enhanced protocol solicited additional information in 270 cases, thereby providing more precise etiological detail about reported exposures linked to production agriculture. The study technology may be used by poison control centers to enhance documentation of other exposures of eminent interest.
- Aquaculture Safety and Health
This 5-year study is one of the first in the nation to systematically address emerging hazards in aquaculture and to identify practical, evidence-based solutions. Principal Investigator Melvin L. Myers, MPA, and Dr. Henry Cole of the University of Kentucky work closely on this project with Dr. Robert Durborow of the Kentucky State University Aquaculture Research Center, one of the top 5 aquaculture programs in the United States. The research team has completed more than 29 operator interviews and walk-through surveys in Mississippi (catfish in ponds), South Carolina (clams in estuaries and bays; submerged nets), North Carolina (trout in raceways), Kentucky (trout, bass, and catfish in ponds and raceways), and British Columbia (salmon in ponds and net pens). Many of the control technologies, safe production strategies, and other best practices identified and evaluated by the project have been conceived and designed by farmers themselves. These and other field-tested solutions have the potential to transform safety in aquaculture as that sector continues to grow and evolve -- that is, before hazardous technologies or practices become deeply ingrained in day to day practice and farm culture.
- Economics of Preventing Agricultural Injuries to Adolescent and Adult Farmers
This prevention/intervention project targets four types of injury events that are prevalent among adolescents and adults who live and/or work on farms: (1) crush injuries to operators when tractors without rollover protective structures (ROPS) overturn; (2) collisions between farm tractors and other motor vehicles on public roadways; (3) traumatic brain injuries to horseback and ATV riders without helmets, and (4) hearing loss to individuals with long-term exposure to high frequencies and loud noises. To promote more effective farm safety education and increased use of personal protective equipment and other risk/hazard reduction behaviors, this project has tested and evaluated the online delivery of (1) interactive narrative simulation exercises that depict a typical case scenario for each of these injury categories across the pre-event, event, and post-event stages, and (2) an interactive Excel™-based Cost Tool that calculates the costs of each injury and the cost-effectiveness of its prevention. EOP materials incorporate readily into required core curricula content for high school students and vividly explain the impact of safety on farmers’ financial bottom line. The secure online data collection system devised for this project allows a virtually seamless transition of research-to-practice for both researchers and classroom educators.
- Developing a Smart ROPS Decision-making Guide
Tractor overturns are the leading cause of fatalities among agricultural workers. Although rollover protective structures (ROPS) used in combination with seatbelts are the single most effective way to prevent injury and death from tractor overturns, an estimated 2.4 million farm tractors in the U.S. lack ROPS and should be retrofitted. Until now, a major barrier to increasing the prevalence of tractors equipped with rollover protective structures had been lack of information about which companies supply retrofit ROPS, what ROPS are available for which tractors, and how to obtain these ROPS. To eliminate this barrier, Dr. Mark Purschwitz of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture led development of the user-friendly Kentucky ROPS Guide, the only the only up-to-date, comprehensive online source of ROPS retrofit information in North America and perhaps anywhere in the world.
- Teaching Public Health Students about Agricultural Safety and Health:
This 5-year education/ translation project has continued the design, implementation, and evaluation of the Health of Agricultural Populations (HAP) emphasis area in the MPH, DrPH, and PhD programs in the UK College of Public Health.
- Nurse Agricultural Education Project
Led by Deborah Reed, RN, PhD, Professor, University of Kentucky College of Nursing, this project addresses the critical need for increasing the agricultural safety and health knowledge of nurse educators, nurse researchers, and students. NAEP has provided traditional and innovative technology-based formats for training of nurse educators, researchers, and students about agricultural illness and injury prevention. Through project-related activity in more than 20 states, NAEP continues to build a growing network of nurses with relevant skills and interests in agricultural occupational safety and health.
The Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education (SW Center) is located at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler. The center currently focuses on innovative approaches to address work-related issues in special agricultural populations including: migrant children, Vietnamese shrimpers, Navajo farm¬ers/ranchers, and youth in agriculture. The guiding principle of the Center is to improve the health and safety of the agricultural community. The Center has developed a broad range of partners for conducting agricultural safety and health research, intervention and outreach activities through-out Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. These partners represent the diversity of the workforce and the range of agricultural production in the region.
Individual Southwest Center Projects
- Migrant Adolescent Health Research Study
This cross-sectional and prospective cohort study of students from two South Texas high schools along the Texas-Mexico border is examining the prevalence of, and the risk factors for, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and back pain. Data on modifiable risk factors in young farmworkers are being collected to compare migrant farmworker students to other Hispanic students. The ultimate goal is to transfer findings to interventions (including policy development) to prevent chronic diseases and back pain in children and adults.
- Innovative Approaches To Worker Health Protection Among Shrimp Fisherman Of The Gulf Coast
The long-term objectives are to: 1) characterize selective workplace factors and lifestyle behaviors which may contribute to morbidity and mortality among Gulf Coast shrimp fishermen (shrimpers) and 2) utilize a community based approach to planning, implementing, and evaluating prevention and education measures directed at priority workplace factors and lifestyle behaviors. The project is a collaboration with the United States Coast Guard and other partners to identify, survey, and conduct noise level monitoring, audiometry, and spirometry among convenience samples of Gulf Coast shrimpers in Texas and Louisiana.
- Model Farmers Dissemination Project
This project is enhancing the capacity of Navajo model farmer "opinion leaders" to provide consulting expertise on best management practices and pesticide safety application procedures through training, equipment and supplies. The effectiveness of this intervention is being assessed using farm yield, safety behaviors and environmental effects (levels of agricultural chemicals in the run-off water). Recommendations about "model farms" and "model farmers" are being developed and will be used to help disseminate best practices to neighboring farmers on the Navajo Nation and to other culturally differentiated groups where health disparities may be common.
- Promoviendo Farmworker Safety- Heat Stress Prevention
Intervention Mapping is the framework used to identify and address cultural and logistical barriers to heat stress prevention for hired farmworkers. A bi-lingual (Spanish) educational toolkit is being developed and validated for promotores (lay health educators) 1) to be certified by the TX Department of State Health Services as competent to teach heat stress prevention to farmworkers, and 2) to teach standardized information that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for Spanish-speaking farmworkers. The toolkit includes a photonovella, flipchart, PPE examples, and intervention report forms.
The Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (WCAHS) at UC Davis has made strides in areas of research, prevention/intervention and education/outreach. It is uniquely situated to address and affect the health and safety of farmers, farm family members, hired farm workers and their families because of its co-location with the UC Davis Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, its Colleges of Agriculture and Engineering, and the California’s Central Valley, one of Western agriculture’s most intensive and productive regions. WCAHS has taken a leadership role in addressing western agricultural health and safety issues, including health among migrant and seasonal (hired) farm workers, ergonomics of labor-intensive crop work, respiratory hazards in dry-climate farming, health of women and children in agriculture and pesticide safety. The public (general and agricultural) have been recipients of educational programs. WCAHS’ electronic communications (newsletter, list server) have expanded educational efforts of the center internationally.
Individual Western Center Projects
Rapid Assays for Human and Environmental Exposure Assessment
This project is developing rapid, sensitive, and cost effective immunoassays that will provide high quality analytical data for use in exposure assessment, model development, and mechanistic research. Objectives of the study are to: develop technologies to improve the speed, sensitivity, and robustness of existing immunoassays for biomarkers; develop immunoassays for new analytes of both exposure and effect that have been identified as useful to other WCAHS investigators; and provide analytical support to other WCAHS investigators with existing pesticide immunoassays. The major impact of this research on public health will be the development of sensitive, rapid, cost effective analysis tools for biomarkers of the pesticides, permethrin, imidacloprid, thiomethoxam and fipronil and a more general marker of inflammation.
- Farm Worker Family Health Cohort Study
Specific aims are to: 1) Conduct two questionnaire follow-ups of the MICASA study population (from the previous funding period) and to conduct spirometry, measure vital signs and anthropometry, and collect biologic samples; 2) Assess the relationship of exposure to dusts and other toxicants from agricultural activities to respiratory health; 3) Assess the contribution of agricultural work to musculoskeletal problems and injuries; 4) Assess the relationship between lifestyle factors (i.e. diet, obesity and smoking) with chronic health outcomes; 5) Disseminate results to individuals, the farm worker community and policy makers to increase awareness of factors affecting health among farm worker families and to suggest approaches to improve health. This research has direct relevance to public health in that it will aid our understanding of the diverse causes of disease in this population and assist in developing strategies to prevent complications from acute and chronic diseases. It would also provide a natural progression from research to intervention and prevention efforts.
- Respiratory Health and Exposures on Large Californian Dairies
The aims of this study are to define the concentrations of airborne pollutants highly associated with respiratory problems, and examine the respiratory health of the dairy workers compared to a control group of creamery employees and grain storage workers in a collaborator's study in Colorado. This cross-sectional study is monitoring personal exposure to particulate matter, endotoxins, and ammonia over a work shift in 200 dairy workers (from dairies with over 1,000 lactating cows) and 50 creamery workers. Outreach is also being extended to those individuals who deal with health, safety and other regulations pertaining to the dairy industry.
- Health Effects of Airborne Agricultural Particles from the Sacramento/San Joaquin Valley
This project is addressing the following questions: (1) Do differences in particle concentration, size distribution, and composition that occur as a function of agricultural activity result in different health outcomes that can be detected during inhalation exposure experiments? (2) Is exposure to agricultural particles associated with measurable pulmonary responses following short-term to sub-acute exposure intervals? (3) Does the season of the year have a significant bearing on respiratory responses observed?, and (4) Are specific components of agricultural-based particles more toxic than others? Each question is being addressed using real-time, inhalation exposure experiments.
- Dairy Safety Training Program
This program was developed by the WCAHS as part of the Worker Occupational Safety and Health Training and Education Program (WOSHTEP). WOSHTEP is administered by the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation in the Department of Industrial Relations through interagency agreements with the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley, WCAHS and the Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program at UCLA. Products of this program can be found at: http://agcenter.ucdavis.edu/Announce/dairy_guide.php.
To assist in the NIOSH mission, in 1990, Congress established a National Program for Occupational Safety and Health in Agriculture within NIOSH to lead a national effort in surveillance, research, and intervention. This program has had a "significant and measurable impact" on reducing adverse health effects among agricultural workers. As part of this program, ten Agricultural Research Centers were established nationally. These Ag Centers conduct research, education, and prevention projects to address the nation’s pressing agricultural safety and health problems. Geographically, the Ag Centers are distributed throughout the nation to be responsive to the agricultural safety and health issues unique to the different regions. Through these efforts, the Ag Centers help to ensure that actions to prevent disease and injury in agriculture are taken based upon scientific findings. The annual reports are offered as an overview resource of the Center’s activities.
Effective, consistent, realistic and convincing evaluation is essential for both short- and long-term progress toward improving agricultural safety and health. The NIOSH Ag, Forestry and Fishing Program had major evaluations in 1995 (“the Kennedy Report”) and 2007 (“the National Academies report”). Evaluation challenges of Ag Centers were discussed by McDonald and White in 1998 and by Donham and Storm in 2002.
Evaluation challenges for NIOSH-funded agricultural health and safety centers include those related to the current state of development of agricultural health and safety as a public health arena, those inherent in multi-site evaluation of diverse centers, and those related to evaluation itself. In an effort to enhance and improve Ag Center evaluation activities, NIOSH has funded the Ag Center Evaluation Project. The following reports have been produced:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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