Public Health Practice – The burden of agricultural injuries and fatalities weighs heavily on rural communities and the families of those who have been injured or killed. Agriculture is a dangerous occupation, accounting for one of the highest fatality rates in the United States, with 475 deaths reported in 2012, and an estimated 243 agricultural workers suffering a lost-work-time injury every day. Five percent of these injuries result in permanent impairment. To address these unacceptably high rates, the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) was established as one of nine Agricultural Safety and Health Centers in the United States that receive funding from the National Institutes of Safety and Health. . The vision of the center is to assist in maintaining a vibrant agricultural sector in our region and the United States, where health and safety is highly valued and work-related injuries and illnesses are rare.
Located at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health, in Omaha, Nebraska, CS-CASH serves a seven-state region including North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. The center’s mission is to work with the agricultural community in the Central States and beyond, conducting research, intervention, education, and outreach activities, which aim to discover the mechanisms of injury and illness, and to develop, implement, and evaluate prevention strategies that measurably improve the health and safety of members of the agricultural community. Center investigators collaborate with the neighboring agricultural centers, based out of Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Texas.
Each center has unique projects and focus areas. CS-CASH focuses primarily on respiratory disease research, injury surveillance, hearing protection, mental health concerns, and educational needs of farmers, including non-traditional farmers, migrant farm workers, and farm family members. To address emerging issues in agricultural safety and health and to provide funding for novel research, CS-CASH awards pilot grants each year. These grants provide funding that lays the groundwork for development of innovative prevention, education, and research strategies. The center’s goal is to serve the farming community by discovering causes of injury and illness, and communicating information about prevention in ways that reach as many farmers as possible. For more information on the specific core projects, please visit the CS-CASH website at: http://www.unmc.edu/publichealth/cscash/.
This article was written by Ellen G. Duysen, Coordinator in the UNMC COPH Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health.