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Insight: Research Edition
HICAHS Programs Help Address Major Health and Safety Issues in Agriculture
The American family farm is idealized in our culture as a simple way of life. The fact of the matter is, it also is a dangerous way of life. Farmers and their families are exposed to a unique set of work-related hazards that often create an environment ripe for injury, illness and even death. The High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (HICAHS) at Colorado State University is dedicated to reducing and, ideally, eliminating accidents, injuries, diseases and deaths resulting from agricultural operations through education, intervention and research.
“Agriculture is one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States, based on statistics from the National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH),” said Dr. Stephen Reynolds, Director of HICAHS since 2002 and a Professor in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. “In a typical year, approximately 800 individuals lose their lives while working in U.S. agriculture. An additional 150,000 people suffer debilitating injuries and illnesses, and a large number of deaths due to occupational disease go unreported. Alarmingly, large numbers of farm accidents involve children. All of these deaths and disabilities greatly affect the social and economic well-being of rural communities nationwide.”
1991 by Dr. Roy Buchan through a grant from the National Institute of Health and Safety, a research and service arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HICAHS is a multi-disciplinary organization incorporating the fields of engineering, industrial hygiene, education, toxicology, social work, epidemiology, environmental health and agricultural sciences. The center is one of 10 NIOSH centers nationwide dedicated to agricultural health and safety.
“When HICAHS was established initially, we were best known for our outreach pro-grams,” said Dr. Reynolds. “We did a lot of work with Cooperative Extension and emphasized consulting work with individual producers and organizations. In 2000, we saw a shift in emphasis at NIOSH toward research and away from outreach, so we have had to re-tool our program to focus on research to a greater extent, while still providing education and outreach services.”
In 2003, HICAHS received a $2.5 million, three-year grant to continue its work. Today, HICAHS has three core programs: prevention and intervention, multi-disciplinary research, and education and outreach. Each core program has a number of ongoing projects.
Prevention and Intervention Core
Multi-Disciplinary Research Core
HICAHS works in collaboration with a number of institutions on its various projects, and networks with others to ensure comprehensive efforts and good communication to improve agricultural safety and health. These organizations include the North American Agrimedicine Consortium, National Institutes for Farm Safety, National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety in Wisconsin, other NIOSH centers throughout the country and others.
For more information on the High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, visit them at www.hicahs.colostate.edu.