Dr. Gus Brihn is a Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine Resident with the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota.
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).
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.
WATCH A HIGHLIGHT VIDEO
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 with Community Health Services Inc. and Migrant Clinicians Network.
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