Wisconsin Childhood Agricultural Safety and Health Intervention

Project Title: Wisconsin Childhood Agricultural Safety and Health Intervention

Principal Investigator: Larry J. Chapman, Ph.D.

Affiliation: University of Wisconsin

City & State: Madison, Wisconsin

Grant Number: 1 R01 CCR514357-01

Start & End Dates: 09/30/97 – 09/29/00


We plan to develop, implement, and evaluate an innovate intervention to protect children and adolescents from agricultural injury. This proposal describes an effort to reduce childhood and adolescent musculoskeletal and traumatic injury associates with paid and unpaid work in the dairy and fresh market vegetable sectors of Wisconsin. We will build on previous work where we have already learned that interventions which seek to improve health, safety, and working conditions must also sustain or improve profitability to be widely adopted. We plan to accomplish the following specific aims:

  1. Learn from a pilot group of dairy producers and fresh market vegetable growers more about the work that children and adolescents typically perform and what hazards they face.
  2. Learn more about what this pilot group of producers and growers has already done to improve safety and health among working children and adolescents, especially modifications (including changes in management practices and equipment) that maintain or improve profitability.
  3. Evaluate these modifications and others we identify or develop with quantitative/qualitative methods to better document the type and degree of advantages to profits and safety.
  4. Share the results with other state producers and vegetable growers in a public information communication campaign and evaluate the campaign among a carefully defined, large sample selected to be representative of operations statewide.

We plan to have two project phases. Phase I will involve the first three specific aims. We will assess child and adolescent work and work hazard exposures. We will identify or develop candidate modifications and assess their effect on profits and safety on a nearby group of 18-36 pilot farms. We have enlisted and, in some cases, already visited over two dozen pilot farms located within one hour’s driving distance of our offices.

Phase II will consist of promoting the best modifications through a public information communication campaign among dairy and fresh market vegetable producers throughout the state. We plan to utilize a variety of vehicles including the agricultural newspapers, magazines and other periodicals read most often by our target group. Print media appear to be the vehicle that agricultural producers prefer for receiving information about new technologies and management methods. We have already established working arrangements with the staff of relevant producer publications. We also plan to involve county extension agents and a number of other information leaders and will prepare them to field inquiries about the best modifications. We have formed partnerships with community-based groups serving production agriculture including milk inspectors, veterinarians and vocational agriculture instructors. We will evaluate the success of the promotion effort among a well-defined group of 300-600 Wisconsin operations.

This research will be adaptable on a wider scale, and be especially relevant to the “traditional agriculture” areas of the North central states as well as elsewhere in North America. The modifications should be easy for farmers to adopt since we are including consideration of the economic and organizational factors which influence adoption and we are focusing on modifications that create a safer and, at the same time, more profitable and efficient workplace.

Page last reviewed: August 30, 2001