Research Highlight: 2020 Project Updates for Short-Term Research and Outreach and Education Projects

Tractor tills the soil and kicks up dust
Photo credit: Hector Amezcua, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis

The Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety offers annual funding opportunities for outreach and education activities and short-term research to support projects related to agricultural health and safety in Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada. Though public health safety measures related to COVID-19 hindered progress on some of the projects in 2020, many were able to make positive impacts to the field.

Outreach and Education Projects

Outreach and Education funding supports the creation of training resources and outreach efforts related to topics such as heat illness prevention and pesticide safety, among others. These are the findings from three of the projects funded in 2019: 

Assessing Farm Stress and Community Support in Imperial County Farmers

Organization: San Diego State University

Though COVID-19 significantly impacted the number of individuals who participated, a total of 24 responses to the Farm Stress Survey were received. The findings showed that the farmers interviewed relied on faith and family members to help cope with farm-related stress. Efforts to reduce farm-related stress and encouragement of informal support networks in farmers’ lives should be a priority. The results have been submitted for publication in the Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health.

Evaluating Effectiveness of Story-Telling Tools in the Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety™ Classroom

Organization: Ag Health and Safety Alliance

This project developed a story card activity and "facilitator's guide" for the Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety™ program. The activity stresses the importance of hazard identification and appropriate use of PPE in emergency scenarios, including wildfires, flood, drought, and zoonotic diseases; and things encountered during emergencies, such as slippery floors and stored chemicals.

Hawaii Pesticide Safety Webinar Series

Organization: AgSafe

This project assisted the Pesticides Branch at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to develop web-based continuing education, allowing a number of virtual pesticide webinars to be offered. The four webinars were attended by a total of approximately 200 participants. Future webinars are planned because of the success of this first webinar series.

Outreach and Education Projects in 2020–2021

Three projects have been funded for 2020–2021, including a continuation of the work that AgSafe is doing in Hawaii with their Agricultural Safety Webinar Series, the development of an agricultural supervisor training from the California Farm Labor Contractor Association, and an outreach program for agricultural All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) safety. Read more about these projects and previously funded outreach and education projects here on our website.

Small Grants Projects

The Small Grants Program funds short-term research to support the collection of preliminary data and aims to attract new investigators to the field of agricultural health and safety. These are the findings from two of the projects funded in 2019:

Ability of Youth Operators to Reach Agricultural All-Terrain Vehicles Controls

P.I. Farzaneh Khorsandi, UC Davis

All-terrain vehicle (ATV) crashes are one of the leading causes of injury and death among youth in the agriculture industry; however, no quantitative data are available on whether young operators meet the requirements for operating an ATV. The study consisted of a combination of 11 vehicle control reach criteria, 24 ATV models, and 54 male children, totaling 14,256 simulations. Preliminary findings show that most reach criteria are not met by most of the children and ATV models. Future studies are planned to include female children.

Exploring Agriculture Workers’ Exposure to and Experience with Wildfires 

P.I. Laura Stock, UC Berkeley

The health of farmworkers is at risk during the frequent wildfire events that occur in California; however, research is limited on the specific needs of farmworkers related to wildfire preparation and impact. The predominant concern of farmworkers related to wildfires was associated with worries about losing income and housing, as well as the impact on their children’s stress levels. Farmworkers experience disadvantaged conditions before, during, and after emergencies and natural disasters, such as wildfires, due to factors like language barriers, poverty, and immigration status.

Small Grants Projects in 2020–2021

Five projects have been funded for 2020–2021, including research on the stability of ATVs, data collection for occupational health and injuries in agriculture, the impact of dust exposure on the lungs, the impact of agricultural chemicals on the health of farmworkers, and the effects of air quality on the economics of farmworker productivity. Read more about these projects and previously funded projects here on our website.

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