Central Appalachian Regional Education and Resource Center (CARERC)

Agricultural Safety & Health (MPH)

The Agricultural Safety and Health (ASH) training program is designed to increase the number of public health practitioners and researchers who are knowledgeable and skilled in the prevention of occupational injury and illness among workers in production agriculture, forestry, and commercial fishing (AgFF).

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, these sectors experience the highest rate of work-related fatalities in the United States (24.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers per year; CFOI 2011), as well as high rates of nonfatal injuries (15.5 per 100,000 workers per year; BLS 2011). Together with transportation, construction, and mining, the AgFF sectors help to account for high rates of occupational injuries and fatalities in Central Appalachia (BLS 2009, 2011).

The ASH program aims to equip students with an in-depth understanding of agricultural health and safety issues within the student’s chosen public health discipline: e.g., Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Health Services Management, Environmental Health, or Health Behavior. Emphasis is placed on the application of theoretical, analytical, and management principles to agricultural populations, while at the same time preparing graduates for practice as part of larger, transdisciplinary teams that may include farm operators, labor representatives, Ag Extension agents, teachers, nurses, physicians, engineers, and other stakeholders.

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Students must choose one of the five departments in the College of Public Health as their "home department" for a concentration (not a major) in a public health discipline: Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Health Services Management, Environmental Health, or Health Behavior. Across any of the five CPH departments, MPH students must complete a minimum of 42 semester hours. The following core courses are required of all MPH students.

Core courses required of all MPH students
EpidemiologyCPH 6053 hours
BiostatisticsSTA 5803 hours
Public Health Disease & PreventionCPH 6043 hours
Occupational / Environmental Health ICPH 6013 hours
Management of Public Health OrganizationsCPH 6503 hours
Public Health PracticeCPH 6633 hours
Total required core18 hours

All students are also expected to complete a field practicum and capstone project:

Public Health Practicum, CPH 609, 3 semester hours. This MPH practicum field experience is focused in an area that relates to agricultural health and safety, including placements in agencies such as the Cooperative Extension Service, health departments with rural injury control programs, and state health departments. Field experiences also include analysis of agriculture department data or prevention programs. Previous ASH practicum experiences have included placement at a rural county health department in eastern Kentucky/western Appalachia, and collaborative projects with 4H, FFA, and other farm organizations.

Public Health Capstone, CPH 608, 3 semester hours: This is the course where students write their major Capstone research project paper. Students in the ASH program are expected to develop a project around an agricultural safety and health topic.

Department-Specific Courses. In addition to the required CPH courses, each of the five CPH departments may require one to four additional courses (3 – 12 semester hours), including research hours. Thus, depending on their major, MPH students must complete two to five elective courses (6 – 15 semester hours). For all department-specific courses, students are encouraged to write papers, research projects and presentations related to agricultural safety and health in all courses where possible.

Additional Courses Required for ASH Trainees

In addition to these required CPH and department-specific semester credit hour requirements, the following two courses are required of all ASH trainees:

CPH 610 Injury Epidemiology and Control (3 semester hours). Taught at UK since 1999. This course describes the distribution and determinants of traumatic injuries and toxic exposures. Topics include sources of data, methodological approaches to studying injuries, application of the Haddon matrix, evaluation of injury interventions, and the links between epidemiology and public health policy. This course is an essential component to understanding the unique issues of trauma in production agriculture, forestry, commercial fishing. The course is taught every Spring semester. Course Coordinator: Dr. Terri Bunn.

CPH 729 Health of Agricultural Populations (3 hours). Taught at UK since 2005. The course examines hazards that affect the health, safety and productivity of farmers, farm family members, hired farm workers, and others who live or work in agricultural environments, e.g., crop and livestock production, timber production and commercial fishing. The course covers the history of the field and current and emerging issues (e.g., cumulative and acute hearing loss, pesticide poisoning, asthma, and traumatic injury). It provides a strong foundation in the etiology of illness, early recognition of hazards and risk behaviors, and prevention strategies. The course is taught every fall semester and includes site visits and assessments at agricultural work sites.

Additional Courses Required for all CARERC Trainees

The following courses are required of all CARERC students including the ASH students.

Occupational Health (CPH 620): This course is provided by faculty from all CARERC disciplines and is taught every Spring. The course includes students collecting occupational histories from workers in various fields and reviewing the potential hazardous exposures associated with those jobs. Students are divided into interdisciplinary teams of 4 to 6 students each, and the teams conduct surveys of workplaces in the Lexington-Richmond area. The teams are required to write a report (approx.10 pages) describing the general plant procedures and the hazards and control measures associated with at least one selected work task (hazard analysis). Each team presents the results of its assessment during a class meeting.

Occupational Safety and Health Seminar (CPH 699): All students are required to enroll in four semesters (only one semester for credit) of the Occupational Safety and Health Seminar course. This course features interdisciplinary presentations from faculty, staff, guest lecturers, and students. The seminars may take a variety of formats including standard research presentations, discussions with visiting scientists, study design planning conferences, journal club, laboratory demonstrations, or visits to local industries. During the one semester that students take the seminar course for credit, they present the results of their occupational research conducted for their capstone or dissertation project.

Occupational Health Field Surveys (CPH 698): Each year CARERC provides a one-week Occupational Health Field Survey course for 3 hours credit (50 total contact hours). Students across all disciplines participate in this field survey opportunity. The course is also available to students who are not supported by CARERC and from other institutions. The field experience includes travel to industries throughout the Central Appalachian Region. Industries in our region that have agreed to provide surveys and discuss occupational health and safety problems include underground and surface coal mines, timber and sawmills, power plants, railroad and trucking terminals, oil refinery, machining and assembly plants, chemical plants, automotive manufacturers, food production plants, and agricultural operations. Students will take supervised tours of the worksites. Interdisciplinary teams are required to evaluate health and safety procedures associated with selected work tasks. After the tours, students and faculty members meet to discuss the health and safety issues associated with the workplace and the company’s approach to dealing with them.

Summary of total credit hours for ASH students:
18=Core CPH required courses
3=Ag-related practicum experience
3=Capstone course
3=Injury Epidemiology and Control
3=Health of Agricultural Populations
3=Occupational Health
3=ERC Field Survey course
1=ERC Pro Seminar
6 to 12=Departmental requirements (including electives)
42 to 49=Total

The variability between 42 and 49 semester hours depends upon the student’s department (MPH Handbook, 2013).

Doctoral Degrees – Doctor of Public Health or PhD in Epidemiology Biostatistics

Because of interest in agricultural safety and health research among our doctoral students, we provide support for one Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) or one PhD student each year. The College of Public Health offers a DrPH with a focus in Epidemiology or Health Services Management and a PhD in Epidemiology-Biostatistics. The research focus of these students must be on agricultural safety and health topics.

The DrPH is a terminal professional degree preparing graduates for public health senior leadership positions. It is designed as a school-wide advanced degree and will require a minimum of 63 semester hours of course work beyond the Master's degree. The DrPH candidate must have a Master of Public Health, a Master of Science in Public Health, or an equivalent degree. Typically, a full-time student requires three years beyond the Master‘s degree to complete the program. The program is designed to accommodate non-traditional, working, and part-time students. The curriculum specifies prerequisite introductory courses in each of the five core areas of public health (Biostatistics, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Health Behavior, and Health Services Management). The DrPH students must meet all requirements for the DrPH degree while meeting the requirements for ASH training. The requirements for the DrPH degree are presented in the DrPH Handbook.

The PhD program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics prepares professionals for a career conducting population-based research and clinical trials. This program emphasizes the acquisition of applied skills in the complementary fields of epidemiology and biostatistics, as well as the theoretical foundations of these disciplines. Students must have a prior bachelor’s or master’s degree in biostatistics, epidemiology, statistics, health services research, or mathematical sciences, with prior mathematical training including calculus and statistical methods. Students complete a minimum of 58 credit hours plus dissertation research. Students complete a minimum of 15 credit hours of approved electives, including at least two epidemiology courses and two biostatistics courses. After passing a written comprehensive examination students complete dissertation research resulting in three publishable manuscripts which are integrative in both advanced biostatistical methods and epidemiology. The PhD students must meet all requirements for the PhD degree while also meeting the requirements for ASH training. The requirements for the PhD degree are presented in the PhD Handbook.

Application Process

Students must first seek admission to the UK College of Public Health graduate program. Admission to the MPH requires a minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 2.75 (out of 4). Graduate Record Exam scores are required, unless the person possess a professional degree, such as a MD, DVM, or DMD. For the ASH we only appoint a trainee when he or she presents an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, unless he or she provides evidence of graduate level coursework at a GPA of 3.0 or higher or significant, pertinent work experience since obtaining the undergraduate degree, and excellent letters of recommendation. All (MPH) degree program applicants must apply through the centralized Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS). The UK College of Public Health (CPH) receives between 220 to 250 MPH applications, generally admitting about 60 MPH students each year. The CPH also receives about 50 DrPH and 40 to 50 PhD applications each year, admitting about 12 DrPH and 5 PhD students each year. The ASH program evaluates all of the admitted students as potential candidates for the ASH training program, paying particular attention to potential background and interest in agricultural health and safety.

Selection criteria for students to receive the ERC training funds are made through a separate competitive process once admission to the College has been secured. Students are expected to prepare a Declaration of Interest statement in agricultural health and safety. Admission and funding decisions are made by the faculty members of the ERC selection committee and provided to the students via formal letter.

Prospective ASH trainees must first seek admission to the UK College of Public Health graduate program.

Admission to the MPH requires a minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 2.75 (out of 4). Graduate Record Exam scores are required, unless the applicant possess a professional degree, such as a MD, DVM, or DMD. For the ASH program we only appoint a trainee when he or she presents an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, unless the applicant provides evidence of graduate level coursework at a GPA of 3.0 or higher or significant, relevant work experience since obtaining an undergraduate degree. Candidates are also expected to provide strong letters of recommendation. All (MPH) degree program applicants must apply through the centralized Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS).

The UK College of Public Health receives between 220 to 250 MPH applications annually, generally admitting about 60 MPH students each year. The College receives about 50 DrPH and 40 to 50 PhD applications each year, admitting about 12 DrPH and 5 PhD students annually. The CARERC leadership team evaluates all of the admitted students as potential candidates for the ASH training program, paying particular attention to potential background and interest in agricultural safety and health.

Selection criteria for students to receive ERC training funds are made through a separate competitive process once admission to the College of Public Health has been secured. Students are expected to prepare a Declaration of Interest statement in agricultural health and safety. This statement should be directed to the attention of Dr. Wayne Sanderson, Professor and Chair, Department of Epidemiology. 111 Washington Avenue, Suite 213B. University of Kentucky College of of Public Health. Lexington, Kentucky 40536.

Admission and funding decisions are made by the faculty members of the CARERC selection committee and provided to the students via formal letter.