As fall harvest gathers momentum, the N.C. Agromedicine Institute encourages North Carolina farm families to focus on farm health and safety during National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 15-21. The institute’s mission is to develop solutions for agricultural hazards, collaborate on strategies for preventing injury and illness, and work with communities to promote health and safety through its research, education and intervention programs.
The N.C. Agromedicine Institute — a partnership of N.C. State University, East Carolina University, N.C. A&T State University — collaborates with many state and community partners. This week, the institute’s community of safety and health researchers and educators urges farmers, farmworkers and their families to take time to recognize hazards in their workplace and take steps to reduce risks.
The theme for farm safety week — “Working Together for Safety in Agriculture” – reminds us that safety on farms is everyone’s responsibility. U.S. Department of Labor statistics show the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 475 fatalities or 21.2 deaths per 100,000 workers.
Gov. Pat McCrory has declared Sept. 15-21 to be Farm Safety and Health Week in North Carolina. To read the governor’s proclamation, visit:
North Carolina offers several farm safety programs, including AgriSafe of N.C. and Certified Safe Farm programs, which recently received an N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission grant of $300,000 to expand the program.
Based on an award-winning 2012 pilot program in Duplin, Johnston and Sampson counties, also funded by the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, the new project will bring AgriSafe health services and Certified Safe Farm on-farm safety reviews to more counties across the state. The grant will support N.C. Cooperative Extension agents in conducting on-farm safety reviews and will enable AgriSafe of N.C. and local health providers to conduct comprehensive health screenings of farmers and farmworkers.
The programs help farmers develop practical solutions to safety and health problems on their own operations, whether tobacco, cotton, vegetables, ornamentals, hog, poultry, cattle, Christmas trees, agritourism or any of the other diverse operations found in North Carolina. Extension agents will discuss problems in one-on-one education sessions with farmers during the safety review and will assist farmers in finding low-cost safety equipment and making other safety improvements.
AgriSafe nurses and other health providers, specially trained in agricultural health and safety issues, will assist farmers in selecting proper personal protective equipment, based on individual risks and work situations.
In keeping with the theme “working together,” N.C. Cooperative Extension’s partners in AgriSafe and Certified Safe Farm of N.C. include N.C. State University and the N.C. Agromedicine Institute and its AgriSafe of N.C. program. Other N.C. Agromedicine programs include:
• N.C. AgrAbility Partnership: This program assists North Carolina’s agricultural workers, families and communities by facilitating the means to continue farming with a disability and by providing a support network. AgrAbility addresses disabilities such as spinal cord injuries and amputations and conditions, such as arthritis. This four-year project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
• Risk Mitigation Measures II Project: This project helps educate farmers across the state about new requirements for using soil fumigants and provides assistance with personal protective equipment selection, medical clearance, and fit tests. The project is funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.
• Pesticides and Farmworker Health Toolkit: Train-the-trainer workshops have been offered for this highly visual pesticide safety educational resource available in Spanish and English for 11 crops. The toolkit includes flipcharts, handouts, and interactive activities and is EPA-approved for worker protection standard training. For more information visit go.ncsu.edu/pesticide-toolkit. This project was funded by the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund.
Leaders of the AgriSafe and Certified Safe Farm of N.C. programs are Dr. Gregory Cope, professor and agromedicine campus coordinator, and Julia Storm, agromedicine information specialist, both in the Department of Applied Ecology, both of N.C. State University; Robin Tutor-Marcom, director, N.C. Agromedicine Institute; and Barbara Gallagher, registered nurse, AgriSafe of North Carolina, both of East Carolina University. Timothy Britton, Johnston County agriculture extension agent, coordinates Certified Safe Farm; and Dr. Catherine LePrevost, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Applied Ecology, is evaluation coordinator.
To learn more about the N.C. Agromedicine Institute, visit www.ncagromedicine.org.