California agriculture is one of the brightest spots in our state. Unparalleled in its diversity and productivity, agriculture has been an engine of growth for nearly two centuries. Along with its dynamism and benefits, agriculture requires a constant focus on safety to prevent illnesses and injuries.
People working in agriculture know these two sides of the industry well, as they are a part of their everyday experience. The UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, also known as WCAHS, is now in its 26th year working in partnership with the agricultural community to improve the health and safety of farmers, farm employees and their families, with a focus on Western agriculture.
WCAHS is one of 11 regional agricultural health and safety centers in the U.S. established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to help protect those working in agriculture. Its multidisciplinary research and outreach program covers the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada—a powerhouse region for food production.
The University of California, Davis, is ranked No. 1 in the nation for agricultural sciences. WCAHS has built on this expertise, with researchers coming from across campus, including the College of Engineering, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine.
WCAHS has a portfolio of scientific research projects geared toward a variety of health and safety issues. WCAHS is interested in mechanical solutions because they have multiple benefits for the agricultural community, including optimizing productivity—especially with labor-intensive crops—protecting employees against musculoskeletal injuries and coping with a shrinking labor pool.
Education and outreach form another large part of WCAHS efforts. Outreach staff are bilingual in English and Spanish. WCAHS provides free training programs on heat illness prevention, pesticide safety, hazard identification and control, and worker occupational health and safety. All of these programs comply with state Department of Pesticide Regulation or Cal/OSHA standards.
WCAHS thanks the California Farm Bureau Federation for this publishing this article on August 23, 2017 in AgAlert. It has been modified from the original for this blog.
UC Davis Affiliations
WCAHS is part of the John Muir Institute of the Environment, which is managed by the UC Davis Office of Research. WCAHS investigators come from across the UC Davis campus, including the School of Medicine, the School of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Engineering, and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. WCAHS is administered through the Center for Health and the Environment and is a program of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.