As fall harvest gathers momentum, the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute (NCAI) pauses to focus special attention on farm health and safety during National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 18-24. The Institute’s mission is to develop solutions for agricultural hazards, collaborate on strategies for preventing injury and illness, and work with communities to promote health and safety through its research, education and intervention programs.
The N.C. Agromedicine Institute — a partnership of N.C. State University, East Carolina University, N.C. A&T State University — collaborates with many state and community partners. This week, the Institute’s community of safety and health researchers and educators urges farmers, farmworkers and their families to take time to recognize hazards in their workplace and take steps to reduce risks.
In a typical year, 551 workers die while doing agricultural work in the United States and about 88,000 suffer lost-time injuries. Most of these incidents are preventable.
“Already this year in North Carolina, we have learned of three on-farm machinery fatalities and three farm equipment motor vehicle roadway fatalities. Thankfully, another fatality was prevented when a farmer rolled over his tractor but was saved because of a properly installed roll over protective structure (ROPS),” said Robin Tutor, interim NCAI director.
Several ongoing Institute projects are addressing critical health and safety issues for North Carolina’s farmers and farmworkers:
• AgriSafe and Certified Safe Farm Programs: More than 60 farmers in Johnston, Duplin and Sampson counties have completed extensive on-farm safety reviews with specially trained N.C. Cooperative Extension agents, and many have also completed occupational health screenings with specially-trained AgriSafe nurses. Cost-share funds are available for making recommended health and safety improvements. This pilot project will continue through June 2012 and is funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.
• N.C. AgrAbility Program: This program assists North Carolina’s agricultural workers, families and communities by facilitating the means to continue farming with a disability and by providing a support network. AgrAbility addresses disabilities such as spinal cord injuries and amputations and conditions, such as arthritis. This four-year project was recently funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
• Risk Mitigation Measures Project: This project helps educate farmers across the state about new requirements for using soil fumigants and provides assistance with personal protective equipment selection, medical clearance, and fit tests. The project is funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.
• Rolling out the Pesticides and Farmworker Health Toolkit: Train-the-trainer workshops are available in Spanish and English for this new, highly visual pesticide safety educational resource for 11 crops. The toolkit includes flipcharts, handouts, and interactive activities and is EPA-approved for worker protection standard training. For more information visit: go.ncsu.edu/pesticide-toolkit. This project is funded by the N.C. Department of Agriculture &Consumer Services Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund.
The institute has not wavered in its commitment to prevent agricultural illness, injury and fatalities on farms. Consider contributing to the work of the institute by donating to newly established Agromedicine Institute funds at ECU, onestop.ecu.edu/onlinegiving or N.C. State at http: www.cals.ncsu.edu/givenow.
To learn more about the N.C. Agromedicine Institute, visit www.ncagromedicine.org.