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NIOSH pledges $6 million for children safety in agriculture

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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has awarded the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, a competitive grant renewal of $6 million over five years to continue the center’s mission of childhood agricultural injury prevention.

New studies being launched address youth operating ATVs for farm work, adolescent mental health, the impact of available childcare on safety practices, and other safety issues important to the agriculture community.

“Childhood agricultural safety has never been more important than now during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Barbara Lee, Ph.D., National Children’s Center director. “Children are spending more time on farms, which can be positive from a family perspective, but it also increases their exposure to farm hazards and raises supervision challenges with home-schooling and closure of many child care centers.”

The National Children’s Center is one of 11 agricultural centers funded by NIOSH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the only center dedicated to childhood agricultural injury prevention. NIOSH announced the renewal at the beginning of this month.

Although the rate of non-fatal injuries to children in agriculture has declined since the National Children’s Center was established in 1997, agriculture remains hazardous for children and youth. About every three days, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident, and each day, about 33 children suffer preventable injuries. During the past decade, youth worker fatalities in agriculture have exceeded all other industries combined.

“By working with our partners in agriculture, including farm parents, businesses and organizations, we’re helping ensure that safety interventions and guidelines are sustained beyond the span of the grant period,” Lee said.

The new grant includes six distinct research studies, an outreach program, administrative and core leadership, and a national stakeholder advisory board.

Principal investigators within the Research Institute include Lee; Casper Bendixsen, Ph.D.; Bryan Weichelt, Ph.D.; Marsha Salzwedel, Ed.D.; Florence Becot, Ph.D.; and Jeffrey VanWormer, Ph.D. External principal investigators are Farzaneh Khorsandi, Ph.D., and Fadi Fathallah, Ph.D., University of California-Davis; Shoshanah Inwood, Ph.D., Ohio State University; and Josie Rudolphi, Ph.D., University of Illinois. Andrea Swenson, Ph.D., will oversee evaluation of the center’s process, outcomes and impact.

The center will continue to partner with Migrant Clinician’s Network, working with Amy K. Liebman, M.P.A., and her team of professionals dedicated to improving the health of migrant farmworkers and other mobile underserved populations.

The projects:

  • “Surveillance of Medically Attended Agricultural Injuries in Farm Children” (VanWormer)
  • “Linking Childcare to Farm Children Safety” (Becot)
  • “Farm Kid Paradox: Anthropological Inquiry Into The Benefits and Risks of Child-Livestock Interaction” (Bendixsen)
  • “Assessing the Impact of Traumatic Injury News Articles on Farm Mothers and Educators” (Weichelt)
  • “Farm Adolescent and Mental Health” (Rudolphi)
  • “Capabilities and Limitations of Youth Operating Agriculture All-Terrain Vehicles” (Khorsandi and Fathallah)
  • “Outreach Core” (Salzwedel)

The National Children’s Center is also supported by Marshfield Clinic Health System and through generous donations and other grants. 

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