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HICAHS Program Receives Grant from NIOSH
The High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (HICAHS), based in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, has received a $504,000 grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. HICAHS will lead a group of 10 university-based agricultural safety and health research centers in a national initiative to prevent deaths and serious injuries from tractor roll-overs.
Tractors overturning onto the operator, people being run over, people becoming entangled in power takeoffs, and collisions with non-farm vehicles on public roads are the leading causes of death and serious injury in the nation's agricultural industry. More than 250 farmers, family members and farm employees die annually in such incidents, half of them when a tractor overturns and crushes the operator.
Although no official statistics are available, University of Kentucky researchers estimate that 4.46 non-fatal injuries occur for every fatality caused by an overturned tractor. These injuries are often severe and disabling. They also can be financially devastating, causing immediate and long-term medical expenses and the loss of family farms when an owner-operator is incapacitated.
"The funding will allow the NIOSH-supported Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education and Prevention and the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety to fill current gaps in their knowledge base and to explore new techniques to promote safer tractor use," said Steve Reynolds, director of HICAHS.
Advancements in technology, such as rollover protective structures, or ROPS, can prevent death and injury from overturns. When used with seat belts, ROPS have proven effective at virtually eliminating fatalities and serious injuries. However, more than half the approximately 4.7 million agricultural tractors in the United States lack ROPS.
Under the initiative, the centers will:
The most ambitious of the projects, involving eight of the 10 centers, will test community-based social marketing in 36 venues across the United States. Social marketing seeks to influence behavior to benefit the intended audience.
"We are eager to see if we can use some of the techniques developed in the last few decades to sell tractor operators on safer practices," said Reynolds. "Unless we can begin changing attitudes and behavior, we are not going to solve this problem."
The NIOSH-supported agricultural safety centers established as part of a NIOSH initiative in 1990 to address the nation's pressing agricultural health and safety problems. Nine centers located across the country to respond to the issues unique to each region. NIOSH also supports the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety in Wisconsin. For more information about HICAHS, visit their Web site at http://www.hicahs.colostate.edu/.