Regional directors of NIOSH agricultural safety centers attend UTHCT conference

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education will host a regional conference on research into agricultural safety Thursday, April 28, at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, 11937 U.S. Highway 271.

As part of the conference, a reception for officials from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and directors of nine regional agricultural safety centers will be held from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at the Tyler Rose Center, 400 Rose Park Drive in Tyler. Horace McQueen, a noted former farm and ranch broadcaster, will speak briefly about the changing trends of agriculture in East Texas.

Directors of the other eight centers will attend Thursday’s conference and reception. These centers are located in Columbus, Ohio; Iowa City, Iowa; Fort Collins, Colo.; Cooperstown, N.Y.; Seattle; Lexington, Ky.; Greenville, N.C.; and Davis, Calif. The National Children’s Center is located in Marshfield, Wis.

“Agriculture remains a high-risk occupation. Agricultural workers face some of the highest risks for injury, illness, and death. The focus of this initiative, started by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), has been to study safety and health issues in agriculture and how to reduce illness, injury, and death among farmers,” said Dr. Jeffrey Levin, director of the Southwest Agricultural center at UTHSCT.

The “Joint Agriculture Centers Research Update” will be held from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, April 28, in the Center for Biomedical Research Auditorium at UTHSCT. The Southwest Agricultural Center is one of nine Agricultural Occupations Health and Safety Research Centers in the United States. It is funded by a five-year grant, receiving $1.1 million annually. The center awards mini-grants to groups to educate agricultural workers and families about issues such as tractor and livestock safety. The National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety focuses on children who live and work in these environments.

At Thursday’s conference, results from studies of tractor-related deaths and injuries, the health of farm families in Louisiana, injuries to migrant farmworker children, developing culturally sensitive ways to train Vietnamese shrimpers about safety, and preventing agricultural injuries in the Navajo Nation will be presented. Researchers and center directors also are able to exchange information and progress they have made in improving agricultural safety, Dr. Levin said.

“Agriculture is a very broad area. In the United States, fishing is considered part of agriculture, thus the study of Vietnamese immigrants who are shrimpers along the Gulf Coast,” Dr. Levin said.

“Our Southwest Agricultural Center oversees projects in five states: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. We have the occupational health and safety expertise to monitor these projects. It’s certainly a privilege for the Health Center to be an academic representative of agricultural safety research in this region through this cooperative agreement with NIOSH,” Dr. Levin said.

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