Jennifer M. Lincoln, PhD, CSP, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; KC Elliott, MA, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; John Gibbins, DVM, MPH, dipl. ACVPM, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
The NIOSH Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Program (AgFF) provides leadership and coordination between intra- and extramural efforts nationwide to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses among the nation’s agricultural, forestry, and fishing workers. The eleven NIOSH-funded Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health and NIOSH Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies conduct much of this research, as well as regional capacity-building, outreach, and research-to-practice activities. In partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, NIOSH also administers the Commercial Fishing Occupational Safety Research and Training Grant Program which provides targeted, regionally appropriate training and safety research for commercial fishermen nationally.
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the United States, with consistently the highest fatality rate of any sector and high rates of non-fatal injury, despite severe underreporting. AgFF workers are exposed to high-risk, unpredictable environments, as well as long hours and commutes, extended and varying shifts, and the potential for high levels of both acute and chronic fatigue. As such, work hours, mental health, and stress in this sector have recently become a widespread area of additional concern, along with suicide, substance use, and sleep deprivation and disorders. Likewise, the majority of AgFF workers are in non-standard work arrangements, and unlike many sectors, most AgFF workers are specifically exempted in many regulatory policies regarding minimum wage, overtime, maximum hours per shift, child labor, and health and safety enforcement. Moreover, as much as half of crop agriculture production is done by undocumented workers, and there is considerable stress and fear surrounding undocumented status and fear of deportation which may result in workers being reluctant to report hazards or unfair treatment in the workplace.
This poster will highlight the NIOSH AgFF Program’s recent research initiatives related to mental health including work to assess and improve farmer’s and ranchers’ mental health status as well as access to behavioral health care. Also described is work related to the geographic and demographic factors that are associated with higher rates of substance use, suicide, mental health conditions, and job dissatisfaction.
This poster will also highlight efforts to address working hours, sleep, and fatigue within the AgFF sector, including research with immigrant livestock workers and commercial fishermen to understand the characteristics of fatigue, the barriers to effective fatigue management, and the impact of extended hours and shift work on both short- and long-term health.
Finally, this poster will describe recent and future AgFF program resources and training efforts in mental health, stress reduction, aging, workplace violence, fatigue management, and health equity in order to improve the overall health of all AgFF workers.