September 21-27 is National Farm Safety Week. This year’s theme is “Safety Counts: Protecting What Matters.” The theme underscores the importance of working together to build a safer and healthier agricultural work place. California produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. At the heart of this industry are the farmers and agricultural workers, whose labor provides us with an abundant food supply. However, they, and often their families, are exposed to a unique, sometimes hazardous workplace that can affect health at all age levels.
It’s easy to see the dangers of construction work, or to imagine why logging would be the single most dangerous occupation. But farm work is far from most people’s minds when it comes to dangerous work. It turns out that that’s partly because so little is reported about the dangers, either to the media or to government agencies.
THE WESTERN CENTER FOR AGRICULTURAL HEALTH AND SAFETY (WCAHS) at UC DAVIS has made strides in areas of research, prevention/intervention and education/outreach. It is uniquely situated to address and affect the health and safety of farmers, farm family members, hired farm workers and their families because of its co-location with the UC Davis Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, its Colleges of Agriculture and Engineering, and the California’s Central Valley, one of Western agriculture’s most intensive and productive regions.