The Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education (SW Ag Center) is a well established Center based at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler. The SW Ag Center has established as its service area Public Health Region VI that includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Research, intervention, and translation projects as well as outreach programs have been conducted in each of those states consistently. The mission of the SWAg Center is: To improve the safety and health of agricultural, forestry and fishing workers. This is accomplished through an integrated program of research, intervention, education and outreach activities that engage and leverage a network of strategic partners who represent the interests of a diverse worker population and a wide range of agricultural production in the region. The Center is positioned to expand its connections with industry segments, stakeholder groups, and support organizations. The proposed scope of work is responsive to the current funding announcement and is organized around the theme Building Strategic Partnerships to Improve Agricultural, Forestry, and Fishing Worker Safety and Health. The Center brings together an experienced leadership team of staff, Internal and External Advisors in an organizational structure that facilitates a cohesive, coordinated and synergistic program of operation. Research projects include assessment of available data and gaps in order to develop AFF Health Indicators, neuromotor function and acute injury among adolescent Hispanic farmworkers, and organic dust induced inflammatory responses in the lung. Strong regional partnerships will contribute to safety interventions for logging loaders in the Southwest and dissemination heat stress prevention intervention strategies. Partners will be engaged to use educational approaches to improve safety practices among OK farmers and ranchers, increase respirator use among poultry house workers, and demonstrate the effectiveness of social marketing to promote adoption of work practices among Vietnamese commercial fishermen. The Center's impact will be expanded by a Feasibilty program that augments the proposed scope of work and is responsive to emerging issues.
The dynamic nature of production agriculture gives rise to changes in the composition of the workforce as well as the exposure risks for injury and illness. A regional Center can provide leadership to coalesce resources and strategies to effectively address AFF occupational safety and health, expand the scope and quality of research, intervention and education to address regional needs, and build capacity for innovative research by engaging junior researchers from various disciplines to apply their skills to AFF worker issues.
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