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Northeast Ag Safety & Health Coalition Meets for their Second Annual Meeting

by James Carrabba

On May 3-4, 2016, the Northeast Agricultural Safety and Health Coalition held their second annual meeting at the NYCAMH office in Cooperstown, NY. The very first meeting of the Coalition was held here at NYCAMH in May 2015. At this year’s meeting there were eighteen individuals from six different Northeast states present, which included; Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The purpose of the Coalition is to bring together individuals from the Northeast region who have a passion for promoting agricultural safety in their home states and to start a coordinated network that can aid in facilitating this work.  Formation of the Coalition was initially spearheaded by Dr. Doug Schaufler and Dr. Dennis Murphy, both from Penn State University.  Most of the Coalition members are Cooperative Extension Educators who are passionate about delivering agricultural safety and health education in their communities, in addition to their regular extension responsibilities.

Participants conducting a safety audit with the FARM-HAT audit tool

Participants conducting a safety audit with the FARM-HAT audit tool

The goals of the Coalition include:

  • Building capacity for agricultural safety and health education in the region
  • Provide professional development opportunities for coalition members
  • Establish a network of ag safety educators for the Northeast, which will be accomplished with periodic meetings, conference calls and a Northeast Ag Safety and Health Coalition listserv
  • Develop low cost, easy to replicate hands-on educational demonstrations (with supporting lesson plans) that can be delivered by members
  • Search for funding sources that will support the work of the coalition members
  • Identify educators from the other Northeast states who would like to join the coalition such as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, and West Virginia

At this year’s meeting, the participants were able to be involved in several different learning activities that were presented as examples of things that they could conduct back in their home states. Some of the highlights of the Coalition meeting included:

  • A mock PTO entanglement demonstration which used a full size tractor and a Tyvek suit stuffed with newspaper to represent a person becoming wrapped on an unguarded PTO shaft.
  • Safety demonstration lesson plan overview. The participants divided into small groups, reviewed current lesson plan drafts, and provided edits and feedback for improvement.  The completed lesson plans will not be printed in a book but will be available online for print out.
  • Davis Hill from Penn State gave an overview of the Farm Family Emergency Response training and provided copies of these training materials to interested participants.
  • Farm Safety Audit Training. The group spent approximately 2 ½ hours at a local dairy farm conducting farm safety audits using FARM-HAT (Farm/Agricultural/Rural/Management-Hazard Analysis Tool). Dr. Dennis Murphy from Penn State provided training on three items for tractors, agricultural machinery, and ag buildings. Based on the training, the group was asked to complete audits individually on fencing, SMV emblems, PTO mastershields, electrical panel boxes, utility vehicles, and several other topics. After everyone completed their audits, Dr. Murphy reviewed the scores, discussed any score variations and gave general feedback about the audit format.

The group discussed expanding to additional states in the Northeast that have not had representation at last year’s meeting and this year’s meeting. The states not yet represented in the Coalition include; Delaware, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. While most Coalition members are Cooperative Extension personnel, individuals interested in agricultural safety and health from other ag organizations, such as state departments of agriculture could also be included.
Feedback from a post-meeting evaluation was very positive. Several members felt that the meeting should be expanded to three days next year to allow for more in-depth training. Next year’s Coalition meeting may be held in a different location. The group discussed other training topics and several attendees supported the idea of farm visits and audits but with different types of agriculture such as fruits, vegetables, or direct marketing operations. Another suggestion was to include hands-on activities concerning grain handling safety.

NYCAMH was once again honored to be the host site for the second annual meeting of the Northeast Ag Safety and Health Coalition.  If there are any other Cooperative Extension personnel, or others who are interested in learning more, or in joining the coalition, please contact me at 800-343-7527, ext 2216 or e-mail me at jcarrabba@nycamh.com.  A program of Bassett Healthcare, NYCAMH is enhancing agricultural and rural health by preventing and treating occupational injury and illness.


Claire Cekander

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