SPOTLIGHT: Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing – Partners in Health and Safety

SPOTLIGHT: Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing – Partners in Health and Safety

JUNE 2019

UMASH is one of the eleven Centers for Agriculture Safety and Health funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to protect the health and safety of agricultural workers and their families. Agriculture safety and health is just one aspect of the NIOSH Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (AgFF) Program that collectively provides leadership to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses among the nation’s agricultural and forestry workers and fishermen.

The current issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Agromedicine includes 13 articles focused on health and safety issues related to loggers and forestry workers. The National Farm Medicine Center located in Marshfield, Wisconsin is the home for the Journal of Agromedicine.

Read on to learn more about this important research for workers in timber harvesting and forestry.

Logging/forestry safety featured in Journal of Agromedicine special issue

Scott Heiberger
Communications Manager
National Farm Medicine Center

The United States is the top timber-producing nation in the world, but that distinction comes with a cost: harvesting timber is America’s most dangerous occupation. Over the past decade, an average of 66 loggers died each year, at a fatal injury rate more than 30 times the all-industry average.

The current issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Agromedicine devotes 13 articles to the harsh safety-and-health realities of timber harvesting and forestry. Topics include: immigrant workers, technology, injury data collection, logging systems specific to certain regions, and worker training, as well as non-logging forestry activities such as firefighting, tree planting and pruning. The Foreword provides an overview.

“Many of the authors featured in this issue are affiliated with National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-funded Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health,” said Senior Guest Editor Vanessa Casanova, Ph.D., associate professor of occupational and environmental health sciences, University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler and Applied Research Manager for the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention & Education.

The extent and impact of NIOSH extramural funding in forestry and logging is evident in the richness of narratives, research findings, opportunities for outreach and education, and regional capacity-building reflected in this special issue of the Journal

Vanessa Casanova, PhD

Loggers’ work is physically demanding. It is carried out in remote locations amidst unpredictable weather and rough terrain. Loggers deal with massive weights and irresistible momentum of falling, rolling, and sliding trees and logs. Most injuries involve trees and other falling objects.

Logging and forestry are grouped into the NIOSH Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (AgFF) Program, which addresses work-related issues in three industries sharing common characteristics and concerns.

“Prioritizing research through a burden, need, and impact (BNI) model, promoted and supported by NIOSH, has led to meaningful exploration of the burden of illness and injury in this agricultural subsector,” Casanova said.

Assisting Casanova were guest editors: John Garland, Ph.D., consulting forest engineer, Garland & Associates, and professor emeritus, Forest Engineering, Resources and Management, Oregon State University; Mathew Smidt, research forester, Forest Operations Research Work Unit, Southern Research Station, U.S. Forest Service; and Tim Struttmann, MSPH, recently retired manager, Social and Scientific Systems Inc.; board member, Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education; farmer, North Carolina Piedmont.

The Journal of Agromedicine generally focuses on safety and health related to traditional agriculture. This is the first issue dedicated to logging and forestry. An issue devoted to commercial fishing, seafood processing and aquaculture is scheduled for publication in October 2019. It is being edited by Jennifer Lincoln, Ph.D., co-director, Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies, NIOSH.


Journal of Agromedicine

The Journal of Agromedicine is the world’s top source of peer-reviewed agricultural safety and health information. It is edited by the National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, and published by Taylor and Francis Group. The journal’s website provides searchable, archived abstracts from this and past issues.