Study: Alcohol involvement leads to more devastating farm-equipment crashes

A relatively low portion of accidents between farm equipment and passenger vehicles involve alcohol. But those that do tend to be more dangerous and deadly, according to a new study out of the University of Iowa.

Karisa Harland, UI adjunct assistant professor of emergency medicine, led the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-funded research from the UI’s Great Plains Center for Agriculture Health.

She said the hope for the study — published this month in “Traffic Injury Prevention,” a bimonthly peer-reviewed journal — is to educate motorists and farmers and encourage preventive practices.
(Read more in The Gazette)

Additional Media Coverage

Des Moines Register/Press-Citizen

Ag Web


High Plains Journal

Nebraska Radio Network


Program works with Hutterite community on safe farming, safe living

Hutterite farm workers harvesting potatoes. Photo by Kelly Hofer
Hutterite farm workers harvesting potatoes. Photo by Kelly Hofer.

Farming is at the heart of many rural communities, including the Hutterite settlements in eastern South Dakota. The Hutterites are Anabaptists and share common roots with the Amish and Mennonites. They live communally in rural colonies of about 15 families and use modern technology to farm and produce goods. A grant from the University of Iowa Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health helped fund a farm safety outreach project tailored specifically to the Hutterite community.

The Avera St. Benedict Health Center in Parkston, S.D., has been providing health care services to the Hutterites for many years, and has established mobile clinic visits to the colonies. About two years ago, the St. Benedict medical staff noticed that the members of several colonies were receiving emergency/trauma care for agricultural injuries with increasing frequency. St. Benedict staff designed an outreach program, Safe Farming, Safe Living, to increase the awareness of farm hazards and to promote safe work practices among eight Hutterite colonies.

“The Hutterites are not only our patients, but our neighbors and community members,” says Melissa Gale, a behavioral health provider with the mobile clinic. “After seeing some of the injuries, we approached them with the idea [for a safety program] and there was overwhelming support from the colonies. Since agriculture is their staple way to earn a living, they are invested in learning and keeping each other safe.”

Financial support was provided by the Great Plains Center with organizational support from local agribusiness representatives and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks. The program held several events throughout the colonies in schools, dining halls, a machine shed, and even a butcher shop.

Emphasis was placed on developing and delivering culturally appropriate safety and health education that would be accessible to all colony members, regardless of age or language. Because younger children in the colony speak only German, local pre-school teachers participated as interpreters.

“Our strong relationship with the colony members through health care outreach allowed us to be welcomed to the colonies,” adds Gale. “The kids and adults truly engaged in learning and were open minded to trying and following the safety practices.”

The program reached more than 450 participants, and no major life-threatening agricultural injuries have been treated at the health center since the program began in 2015.


Farmers focus of skin cancer, heat stress awareness campaign

Farmers and other outdoor workers face hot and humid conditions in the summer, but they can take steps to prevent sun burns and heat stress. Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH) and the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (GPCAH) have launched a seasonal awareness campaign on skin cancer and heat stress. The campaign includes a poster and radio spots to help spread the word.

Skin Cancer Prevention


Preventing Heat Stress


skin cancer prevention infographic

Save the date: Agricultural Medicine course is June 8-12

The Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health will host Agricultural Medicine: Occupational and Environmental Health for Rural Health Professionals, June 8-12, 2015, at the University of Iowa. The course is designed to provide the information and skills needed to enable safety and health professionals to anticipate, recognize, and prevent occupational illnesses and injuries among members of the agricultural community.

There will also be an open house to meet leaders in rural and agricultural health on Monday, June 8, from 4-6 p.m. at the College of Public Health.

The course is appropriate for safety and health managers, physicians, nurses, veterinarians, graduate students, and anyone interested in the unique safety and health needs of rural and agricultural communities. The course includes classroom instruction, farm tours, safety and rescue demonstrations, and a networking reception. Topics to be discussed include agricultural injury, pesticide exposures and associated health effects, occupational diseases of the lungs in agricultural settings, livestock production, transportation hazards, behavioral and emotional health, zoonotic disease, ergonomics, cancer among agricultural workers, and many others. Continuing education and academic credits are available.

The Iowa Department of Public Health – State Office of Rural Health is providing scholarships to pay the registration fees for two Iowa health care providers to attend the training.

A course brochure and scholarship application are available at

Online registration is available at

For more information, contact Kay Mohling at 319-335-4219 or