The Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, or CSCASH, is a regional organization that is a member of the federal government’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). They are one of nine such agricultural health and safety centers that offer outreach, education, research and prevention services for agribusiness organizations, workers and families. NIOSH is governed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
CSCASH started in September of 2011. They are based out of the University of Nebraska’s Medical Center at the College of Public Health in Omaha. CSCASH serves a total of seven nearby states in the central United States. These include Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota and North and South Dakota. CSCASH is a special partnership between agricultural, public health and grass roots organizations that all strive to reduce injuries and illnesses in the agriculture industry. This is accomplished through pooling resources, maintaining regional activities and utilizing strengths and opportunities.
The goal of CSCASH is to create a rewarding agricultural subculture that promotes health and safety while mitigating work-related injuries and illnesses. Although they primarily work with agricultural communities in the Central States, they also conduct research, education, intervention and outreach activities across the country. They work with non-Central State organizations to create, implement and evaluate prevention programs that protect the health and safety of all members of the agricultural community.
One of CSCASH’s main goals is to improve the safety and health of ranchers, farmers, agricultural workers and their families. CSCASH conducts research, publishes their findings and encourages the practical application and integration of recommendations. Research teams may come from different states and institutions, but they all provide expertise and access to farm communities. The combination of public health, agriculture, and grassroots partnerships means that research teams can address local, regional and national agricultural issues.
Most of CSCASH’s research teams and projects revolve around injury prevention and surveillance related to health problems like hearing loss, mental health, sleep deprivation and respiratory disorders. They also offer education outreach programs to schools, colleges, communities and vulnerable workers. They share their findings through agricultural events, public presentations, agricultural medicine courses and online media. The three main education projects include the National Agricultural Safety Database, the prevention of agricultural respiratory disorders and the addressing of the educational needs of family farms.
Health and Safety Projects
One of the current projects is the prevention of hearing loss programs. The objective of this program is to implement and evaluate new hearing protection strategies that increase the universal use of hearing protection equipment. The research teams conduct controlled experiments that focus on noise exposures and medical history related to hearing loss. Health and safety projects also use interviews, visual observations and measurements to conduct their research.
An entirely different CSCASH project focuses on the effects of sleep deprivation on stress and balance among farm workers. Working long hours are sometimes required because the agriculture industry is highly seasonal and changeable by weather. Both spring planting and fall harvest activities involve around-the-clock workdays, so sleep deprivation contributes to poor awareness and cause physical instability that leads to slips and falls.
The Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health is an important NIOSH program that protects agricultural workers, organizations and communities.