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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has funded 11 Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health (Ag Centers). One new Center in Illinois will join existing Centers in California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Texas, and Washington State. The Ag Centers represent the Institute’s largest extramural investment in agriculture, forestry, and fishing research and outreach to further its mission of protecting and advancing the safety, health, and well-being of the workers who produce food and fiber for our nation. NIOSH also supports the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety which specifically addresses the needs of children and families who live and work on farms across the country.
“For decades, the Ag Centers have been integral to our efforts to reduce injury and illness in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “The addition of the new Illinois Center expands the regional scope in NIOSH’s capacity to address the growing need for research and interventions to address the mental health and wellbeing of agriculture workers.”
The Great Lakes Center for Farmworker Health and Wellbeing, based at the University of Illinois Chicago, is the newest NIOSH Ag Center. It was created to amplify research efforts in farmworker health and wellbeing, as well as foster tighter networks of researchers, policy makers, advocacy groups, and healthcare organizations. Initial projects for the new Center include adapting existing worker wellbeing surveys to address the unique nature of agricultural settings and using medical records to identify and characterize farmworker illness and injury, since nonfatal farmworker injuries and illnesses often go unreported.
“NIOSH Ag Centers are able to work collaboratively on national efforts and events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and projects such as the Centers’ YouTube channel,” said Jennifer M. Lincoln, NIOSH Associate Director for the Office of Agriculture Safety and Health, “while at the same time, each Center specializes in the distinct agricultural, forestry, and fishing industries and worker safety and health needs of their region. Having a new Center that covers the Great Lakes area and focuses on worker health and wellbeing is a welcome and timely addition to the Ag Centers’ capacity to conduct research, train workers, and promote best practices.”
The NIOSH Ag Centers were established as part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / NIOSH Agricultural Health and Safety Initiative in 1990. The Centers were developed by a cooperative agreement to conduct research, education, and prevention projects to address the nation’s pressing agricultural, forestry, and fishing (AgFF) health and safety problems. Despite steady declines in fatalities in the AgFF sector over the past 30 years, in 2020, AgFF workers experienced the highest fatal injury rate at 21.5 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers, compared to a rate of 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers for all U.S. industries.
- Learn more about the research interests of each Center from the NIOSH Office of Extramural Programs at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/oep/agctrhom.html.
- For more information about the NIOSH Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Program, visit https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/programs/agff/.
- The Funding Opportunity Announcement for the Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health can be found at: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-OH-22-002.html.
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