NCERA197: Agricultural Safety and Health Research and Extension
(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)
NCERA197: Agricultural Safety and Health Research and Extension
Duration: 10/01/2015 to 09/30/2020
Statement of Issues and Justification
Issues and Justification for NCERA197 2015-2020 Renewal
Agriculture has the highest injury and fatality rates when compared with other U.S. industries. Recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate the rate of fatal agricultural injuries in 2012 was 22.8 per 100,000 full-time workers. This work death rate is nearly 7 times the all-industry work death rate of 3.4 (BLS, 2013). U.S. farmers are 9 times more likely to die on the job than the average American worker and each year 1 of every 100 farm workers will experience a work-related injury that results in lost workdays (National Safety Council, 2012; NIOSH Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing [AFF] Centers, 2012). These estimates are conservative, as they do not include the vast majority of farms (78%) that employ less than 10 workers (NIOSH AFF Centers, 2012). Seven out of 10 of these smaller farms that experienced a fatality to the principal operator of the farm have to be sold, and the families that live there have to move which creates a ripple that carries throughout the economic and social well being of a community (NIOSH AFF Centers, 2012).
Ongoing research and surveillance are yielding the scientific basis that supports the need for more effective and extensive interventions. The agricultural industry is in need of economical and viable means to reduce the occupational injury and illness risk among farm workers. While other organizations have the expertise to support surveillance and epidemiological research, they have limited expertise of agricultural systems and rural information dissemination, and they lack the networking capability that will yield economically viable solutions to agricultural safety and health issues that will be broadly adopted by the agricultural industry. The Agricultural Experiment Stations and Cooperative Extension System have expertise in agricultural systems and agricultural safety and health issues but need the coordinating structure a multi-state research committee provides in identification and coordination of research and extension priorities. This is apparent from previous outputs and outcomes of this committee.
Initiated in 2000 the NCR197 committee developed a strategy to utilize the Land Grant System's research and extension capacity in cooperation with the experience of those who live and work in agriculture to reduce work-related injuries, illness, and death. This group produced a National Land Grant Research and Extension Agenda for Agricultural Safety and Health: National Agenda for Action (Committee on Agricultural Safety and Health Research and Extension, 2003) document. This national agenda provides a prioritized list of 12 research and extension areas with 115 individual topics relating to agricultural safety and health in which research or extension gaps exist. This historical document marks the first agricultural safety and health agenda for action by the land grant system since 1943 when the first cooperative extension specialist for farm safety was appointed in Wisconsin. The national agenda document has been used by the Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing (AgFF) Sector Council of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as a resource document for their National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) plans, and the Agricultural Safety & Health Council of America (ASHCA) as a resource document. Additionally, the Canadian government used this document as the foundation for their agricultural safety strategic plan.
In 2005, the NCR197 committee was re-appointed under the revised name North Central Education/Extension Research Activity Committee (NCERA) 197. This committee selected Agricultural Equipment on Public Roads, one of the 12 priorities in the national land grant research and extension agenda for agricultural safety and health, and produced a 48 page white paper to: a) help identify research, policy and extension/outreach priorities for the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Transportation, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, state departments of agriculture, transportation and law enforcement, county governments, and production agriculture based organizations; and b) identify possible design and practice standards, goals, or guidelines for farm equipment manufacturers, standard setting organizations, and government agencies (Committee on Agricultural Safety and Health Research and Extension, 2009). This document has been distributed widely across the U.S and Canada, featured at a major conference on crashes between motor vehicles and farm equipment and has been used as a reference by a legislative task force. With the remaining time in this term of the committee, safety and health in and around agricultural confined spaces was explored at the next topic of focus.
In 2010, the NCERA197 committee was re-appointed and selected to continue their work on safety and health in and around agricultural confined spaces. Based upon activities related to the development of the original NCERA197 research and extension agenda, it was determined that there existed significant research gaps with respect to needed engineering, educational, and legislative controls designed to reduce the frequency and severity of confined spaces-related incidents in agricultural workplaces. As a result, a summary of research literature, engineering needs and outreach opportunities was developed and presented at international meetings. Other outputs from this effort include a white paper, journal publications, a national conference, increased research funding at land grant universities, and new and improved safety and health standards. Other objectives for the committee were to increase infrastructure for agricultural safety and health within the Land Grant System and reach out to new audiences. This was accomplished by the development of a new Community of Practice at www.eXtension.org/AgSafety.
Throughout the current project the full committee and subcommittees have investigated additional areas of agricultural safety and health research and Extension to pursue in the next cycle. Many of these areas that have been identified were either topics of interest of several of the committee members or new and emerging topics that have received national attention. The current committee acknowledges that we have the required background and interests to pursue these topics. Many of these proposed topics build on the previous 5-year project as well as the backgrounds of the current and proposed committee. A few of the proposed topics are emerging issues and may require the recruitment of new committee members or collaboration with other related multistate committees. These areas include: falls, public perception of regulations and compliance issues, best safety practices, mental health, impact of training, and sensors and technology.
It is proposed that NCERA197 would: a) summarize the research literature, engineering needs and outreach opportunities related to agricultural safety and health; b) convene a national conference on a current topic related to agricultural safety and health; c) encourage more research and outreach by land grant universities; and d) support youth safety activities, and e) encourage increased standards activity by ASABE to reduce hazards and risks of agricultural work.
Additionally, the committee will continue to increase infrastructure support for agricultural safety and health at land grant universities through several focused activities including continued support for www.eXtension.org/AgSafety.
Revise the National Agenda for Action document that was published by this committee in 2003 to provide land grant researchers and educators assistance in prioritizing agricultural safety and health issues.
Develop a white paper that addresses topics such as: 2.1. current and potential impact of existing and emerging technologies on safety and health in agriculture. 2.2. summary and impact of public policy and regulations related to agricultural safety and health.
Collaborate with other organizations (e.g., NIOSH Ag Centers, ASHCA, ASABE, ISASH) to sponsor regional or national conferences focused on safety and health issues associated with topics such as: livestock handling, best safety practices, organic and market growers, mental health, substance abuse, and public policy and regulations.
Encourage research and outreach at Land Grant universities that utilizes their expertise in addressing safety and health issues associated with agricultural injuries.
Encourage new and improved standards to reduce hazard and risk exposures within agriculture by investigating where the priority areas are within the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and other standard developing organizations and groups.
Work to increase infrastructure support for agricultural safety and health within the land grant system by: 6.1. continuing the support of the Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice at www.eXtension.org/AgSafety. 6.2. maintaining a current inventory of ongoing research and extension activities being conducted by various components of the Land Grant system. 6.3. providing appropriate recognition of Land Grant system researchers and educators who are addressing critical agricultural safety and health issues through nominations to current award mechanisms or creation of new mechanisms. 6.4. pressing the need for additional funding to be allocated to agricultural safety and health issues by creating a new committee within the NCRA system that is eligible for internal funds and experiment station acknowledgement, and 6.5. encourage and support positions of “agricultural safety and health specialist” in Land Grant colleges and universities to study, research, advise, teach agricultural safety issues and problems in each state.
Procedures and Activities
The NCERA-197 committee will create a supportive environment for agricultural safety and health topics by widely communicating our proposal and attracting needed expertise to the committee. An organizational meeting will be held early in the first year of the project.
Activities for Objective 1 will include a formal review of the current National Agenda for Action document that was published by this committee in 2003. The review will include identifying activities that have been addresses or are being addressed and the inclusion of new and emerging technology to the revised document.
Activities for Objective 2 will include literature searches of databases of USDA-NIFA CRIS, the ASABE Technical Library, ASABE Standards, OSHA Standards, NIFS Technical Papers, MEDLINE, NIOSH FACE Reports, Purdue University’s Farm Injury Database, and other similar databases for information pertinent to the potential impact of existing and emerging technologies on safety and health in agriculture and the impact of public policy and regulations related to agricultural safety and health.
Procedures and activities for Objective 3 will include working with NIOSH Ag Centers, ASHCA, ASABE, NIFS, and industry organizations to develop and sponsor a national conference that addresses the issues and needs identified in the work from Objective 3. Funds will be sought to help defray conference costs. A milestone will be the conduct of a well-attended national conference on one of the topics listed in Objective 3. Procedures and activities for Objective 3 will include working with the partners identified above to published conference proceedings, present conference findings at other national meetings of interested parties, and development of educational programs and resources for addressing major agricultural confined space issues.
Procedures and activities for Objective 4 will include reaching out to additional Land Grant universities that have expertise in agricultural safety and health but may not have traditionally been part of this committee. A milestone for Objective 4 will be to have an increase in the number of participants from Land Grant universities.
Procedures and activities for Objective 5 will include working with ASABE and other appropriate partners to develop industry standards to mitigate through design and standard operating procedures hazards and risks associated with agriculture.
Procedures and activities for Objective 6 will include continued leadership of eXtension’s FReSH CoP from this committee, developing a mechanism to record ongoing research and extension activities related to agricultural safety and health in the Land Grant system, continuing to support and encourage awards for committee members and encouraging support for agricultural safety and health specialist.
Expected Outcomes and Impacts
- A revise the National Agenda for Action document will be cited by others.
- The development of supportive environment for information exchange concerning hazards and risk associated with agricultural injuries increases the potential for collaboration and assists in generating a wider distribution of programming efforts.
- A national conference will bring attention and focus to a major agricultural hazard that is not well understood.
- Research, standards and educational programs that reduce hazards and risks related to agricultural injuries will reduce fatalities and serious injury.
- Mechanisms to increase infrastructure support for agricultural safety and health will be identified and operationalized.
- The production of one or more white papers or similar documents that can be cited by others with similar interests.
Projected ParticipationView Appendix E: Participation
This committee, established in 2000, has a superb record of exchange of research and educational programming information through its annual meetings, publications, news releases and websites. The group has also used opportunities such as open forums, concurrent educational programs, and invited presentations at professional meeting to distribute information. Emphasis will be placed on distributing current products of activities relating to agricultural injuries, other identified hazard topics, infrastructure support and enhancing the distribution of available information allowing for better awareness.
There will be two officers for NCERA197. A secretary and chair will be elected every two years at the appropriate annual meeting. The secretary records and distributes minutes of the annual meeting, and then becomes chair of the committee for the following two years. The chair directs the activities of the committee, serves as the liaison between the committee and the administrative advisor, and makes arrangements for the next annual meeting.
1. Committee on Agricultural Safety and Health Research and Extension. 2003. National land grant research and extension agenda for agricultural safety and health. Iowa State University, Reference No. EDC-292. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University. 18 pp. Accessible at http://www.tmvc.iastate.edu/NCR197/.
2. Committee on Agricultural Safety and Health Research and Extension. 2009. Agricultural Equipment on Public Roads. USDA-CSREES, Washington, DC. Accessible at http://www.csrees.usda.gov/about/white_papers/pdfs/ag_equipment.pdf.
3. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Centers. 2012. NIOSH AFF center fact sheet. Retrieved from http://www.marshfieldclinic.org/proxy/mcrf-centers-nfmc-nccrahsniosh_aff_centers_fact_sheet.1.pdf
4. National Safety Council, Injury Facts. 2012. NSC. Itasca, IL.
5. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries – Current and Revised Data. 2013. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Accessible at http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.