Pilot Research Projects Selected for Funding to Improve Agricultural Worker Safety and Health

The Southeastern Coastal Center for Agricultural Health and Safety is awarding more than $56,000 to three pilot research projects to improve the safety and health of agricultural workers.

Scientists will use mobile app monitoring to prevent heat-related symptoms among Hispanic farmworkers; research mental, physical and occupational health issues among Haitian and Mexican migrant farmworkers; and identify work and movements to alleviate chronic lower back pain in seafood workers.

SCCAHS explores and addresses the occupational safety and health needs of workers in agriculture, fishing and forestry in Florida and the Southeast’s coastal states. The University of Florida is the lead institution for the center, partnering with the University of South Florida, Florida State University, Florida A&M University, Emory University and the University of the Virgin Islands.

John Luque, assistant professor of public health sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina, will receive $20,000 to test a mobile phone app to monitor whether Hispanic farmworkers report taking more breaks in the shade, wearing hats, avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages and increasing water intake after receiving heat-related illness education.

Gulcan Onel, assistant professor of food and resource economics at the University of Florida, will receive $16,000 to investigate the extent to which migrant farmworkers with different ethnic backgrounds and social networks face higher risks of mental, physical and occupational health issues.

Kim Dunleavy, an associate clinical professor in UF’s department of physical therapy, will receive $20,441 to conduct research on chronic low back pain in seafood workers. She will research clam workers in Cedar Key, Florida, to identify work-related movements and positions that aggravate or contribute to low back pain.