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UK AgCenter faculty and staff

The Southeast Center takes a transdisciplinary, “team science" approach to agricultural occupational safety and health. The team of investigators and key personnel funded through CDC/NIOSH Cooperative Agreement 5U54OH00757 includes nationally recognized leaders in public health, agricultural engineering, epidemiology, medicine and nursing, curriculum and instructional design, and communications. Together, these men and women are applying a holistic, systems-oriented approach to studying and solving persistent, emerging, and historically under-studied problems in agricultural occupational safety and health. This work is critical because workers in production agriculture, forestry, commercial fishing (AFF) and hunting experience a work-related fatality rate that is six times higher than that of all other industries (DOL 2013).

In the past, worker protection often emphasized behavioral training and the repetition of safety rules, with compliance sought through regulatory and administrative means. Less attention was paid to the importance of control technologies and to the circumstances and contingencies that cause individuals who know safety rules to violate those rules and risk injury or death. Likewise, little attention was paid to the direct and indirect costs of injury for the worker, employer, and their community. Recognizing this gap, the Center has conceived, developed and evaluated narrative simulation exercises and computerized cost-analysis tools that are effective in promoting voluntary risk-hazard reduction among adult workers and youth alike. These materials have been field-tested and evaluated through the Kentucky ROPS Project (completed), Preventing Farm Injuries to Rural Youth (completed), and the Economics of Prevention (EOP II) (ongoing).

Another core project, Nurses Utilizing Research, Service, Education and Practice (NURSE-AP) is helping to train and equip nurses for leadership in agricultural occupational safety and health, while both NURSE-AP and other Center projects are also helping to address vulnerable populations: e.g., migrant and seasonal farm workers and older farmers. These projects constitute a model response to Healthy People 2020 objectives for further integrating core competencies in public health education, cultivating a highly skilled public health workforce, and improving public health infrastructure and preparedness (DHSS, 2010).