Promoting Safety and Worker Health for Immigrant Dairy Workers

Project Description

Seguridad en Las Lecherias: Immigrant Dairy Worker Health and Safety

Dates: 2016 – current

Immigrant workers are important to the economic sustainability of dairy production in the United States. Yet, this population often lacks adequate training due to cultural and language barriers.

Our project goal is to improve the occupational health and safety of Minnesota’s growing immigrant dairy workforce. This will involve incorporation of a One Health approach, employing a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, veterinarians, producers, workers and community health centers. It will build on previous efforts that successfully implemented a train-the-trainer safety and health curriculum for immigrant workers and applied the a community health worker (CHW) model (See Seguridad en Las Lecherías: Immigrant Dairy Worker Health and Safety).

Our specific aims include:

  1. expand and apply evidence-based findings from UMASH research project – Seguridad en Las Lecherías: Immigrant Dairy Worker Health and Safety to Minnesota dairy operations;
  2. provide evidence-based worker health and safety interventions including general worker health; and
  3. train and engage veterinarians to be part of a One Health team for worker health and safety.

Successful execution of these aims will be supported by coordinating activities with key stakeholders and UMASH collaborators to address project challenges, share results and maximize successful strategies. We will enroll 30 dairies in Minnesota who will serve as industry leaders. In addition, we will provide intensive training to 300 to 450 workers as well as suport,  CHWs on these dairies, incorporate accessible health care through Community Health Service Inc., and train veterinarians to assess potential hazards and train workers/producers in ameliorating those hazards, especially as it pertains to working safely around cattle. This effort will serve as national model for preparing the next generation of dairy employees and producers.  This project addresses several strategic goals (2-5) of the National Occupational Research Agenda for Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, including engaging vulnerable workers, conducting health and safety outreach, communicating and preventing risk, and developing partnerships.

Why is this important?

As producers modernize and expand their operations, immigrant workers play an important role in the dairy industry. Working in U.S. dairies is dangerous. The majority of nonfatal worker injuries on dairy farms are due to interactions with cattle. By engaging the emerging workforce with culturally appropriate materials and using trusted sources (physicians, veterinarians and CHWs), we plan to improve worker health and safety.

The majority of nonfatal worker injuries on dairy farms are due to interactions with cattle.

2019 Project Update

Project goals:

1. Expand and apply the evidence-based findings from the completed UMASH research project, Seguridad en Las Lecherías: Immigrant Dairy Worker Health and Safety to Minnesota dairy operations.

2. Provide evidence-based worker health and safety interventions including general worker health.

3. Train and engage veterinarians to be part of a One Health team for worker health and safety, especially as it pertains to safely working around dairy cattle.

Highlights from this year:

  • Partnered with Community Health Services Inc. to provide health screenings, health services, safety and health information to dairy workers, farmers and their families. This is done in conjunction with their mobile clinics on dairy farms in SE Minnesota.
  • Recruited additional dairy farms for health and safety training. Eleven farms are enrolled with 144 workers.
  • Engaged veterinarians as part of the dairy farm health and safety team. This includes developing and field testing a safety audit tool for veterinarians to assess safe animal handling practices and infectious disease exposures on dairies. This tool is being revised. The revised tool would allow veterinarians to provide tangible farm assessments to producers in a simple, understandable format.
  • Revised and updated training and educational materials. This includes developing written training guides for producers on positive animal handling techniques aligning with our current UMASH videos. This offers an additional training tool for producers. Items incorporated for worker training by producers include learning objectives, teaching activities, and post-training assessment options.
  • Engaged community and industry leaders to raise awareness and support farm recruitment. This includes dairy inspectors, dairy supply sales, nutritionist, etc.

Next year’s activities:

  • Continue to recruit dairy farms.
  • Further integrate and engage veterinarians into the health and safety team.
  • Partner Veterinary Public Health Residents with Industrial Hygiene graduate students to develop and field test a Safety audit tool for dairy producers.
  • Integrate mobile health promotion clinics with existing health structures to support continued care of workers including mental health assessment and resources. Seek additional funds to support mental health resources for immigrant dairy workers in combination Community Health Services Inc. and Migrant Clinicians Network.

Dairy Worker Safety Training Curriculum and Resources

seguridadThis project uses the award-winning Seguridad en las Lecherias educational model that includes worker training and promotores de salud (or Community Health Workers) to reduce worksite hazards and to improve worker knowledge and practices. This OSHA-approved five-module, bilingual health and safety training curriculum was developed through extensive input from workers, health and safety professionals and researchers. The curriculum includes background sections on each topic and a step by step facilitators guide with visuals either in the form a power point slide presentation or a flip chart.   Available in English and Spanish


  • Vazquez, Chela. Promoting Worker Health and Safety for Immigrant Dairy Workers. Agricultural Worker Project. Saint Peter, MN. April 20, 2018.
  • Bender, Jeff. One Health and the Immigrant Worker. Minneapolis, MN. July 20, 2018.
  • Vazquez, Chela. Working Across Language and Cultural Barriers in Agriculture. 2018 North American Manure Expo. Brookings, SD. August 15, 2018.
  •  Bender, Jeff, Liebman, Amy. How Safe Is Your Dairy Farm? Minnesota Milk Producers Association Dairy Webinar. September 25, 2018.

Project Personnel



Photo of Jeffrey B. Bender DVM, MS

Jeffrey B. Bender DVM, MS

Professor, Division of Environmental Health Sciences School of Public HealthUniversity of Minnesota
Phone: 612-625-6203


Photo of Jonathan Kirsch MD

Jonathan Kirsch MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine Division of General Internal MedicineUniversity of Minnesota Department of Medicine
Phone: 612-624-1191 Website: Bio
Photo of Amy K. Liebman MPA, MA

Amy K. Liebman MPA, MA

Director Environmental and Occupational HealthMigrant Clinicians Network
Phone: 512-579-4535 Website: Bibliography

Photo of Bruce H. Alexander PhD

Bruce H. Alexander PhD

Professor, Department Head Environmental and Radiological Health SciencesColorado State University
Phone: 970-491-5511
Photo of Auguste Brihn DVM MRCVS

Auguste Brihn DVM MRCVS

Resident Veterinary Public Health and Preventative MedicineUniversity of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
Photo of Gerard Cramer DVM, DVSc

Gerard Cramer DVM, DVSc

Associate Professor, Dairy Production Medicine Veterinary Population MedicineUniversity of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
Phone: 612-625-8184
Photo of Erin Royster DVM, MS

Erin Royster DVM, MS

Assistant Professor Department of Veterinary Population MedicineUniversity of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
Phone: 612-625-9243 Website: Bio
Photo of Katherine Schofield PhD

Katherine Schofield PhD

Associate Professor Swenson College of Science and EngineeringUniversity of Minnesota Duluth
Phone: 218-726-6306 Website: Bio

Photo of Chela Vazquez PhD

Chela Vazquez PhD

Research Project Specialist Division of Environmental Health SciencesUniversity of Minnesota School of Public Health
Phone: 612-625-4578

Photo Not Available

Kristi Halvarson

Executive Director Community Health Service Inc.
Phone: 218-236-6502

Photo of Carol Peterson MEd

Carol Peterson MEd

Project Coordinator School of Public HealthUniversity of Minnesota
Phone: 612-626-0403
Photo of Ana Contreras Smith

Ana Contreras Smith

Dairy Safety Trainer School of Public Health, University of Minnesota
Phone: 651-245-9893

Project News