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HHS PRESS RELEASEMonday, April 21, 1997

NIOSH Update:


Contact: Fred Blosser (NIOSH)
(202) 260-8519

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today launched a national research program designed to protect children on farms from illness, injury, and death.

Under the program, NIOSH will conduct and support research to identify factors that put children at serious risk of injury on the farm, and to develop better information nationally about the prevalence and circumstances of such injuries. The program also will foster new approaches for raising the awareness about safety risks for children on farms and providing information to help farm families, communities, and organizations safeguard young people.

“This national program recognizes that farmers and their children embody a unique tradition of hard work, responsibility, and love for the land,” said Donna E. Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services. “This is a heritage that we want to nurture while assuring safety and health for a new generation of farmers.”

Details of the program were announced by NIOSH at a town meeting today in Marshfield, Wis. Speakers included Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., and NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H. This program builds on previous NIOSH research and on recommendations in a national action plan for child agriculture safety and health released last year by a broad-based coalition of farmers, agricultural groups, safety and health professionals, and government officials.

“This initiative places NIOSH at the forefront of determining the factors that contribute to preventable illnesses, injuries, and deaths among children in farm families, the children of migrant and seasonal workers, and children visiting farms,” Rosenstock said. “When we know more about these factors, we can help parents and employers determine which tasks and activities are appropriate for children of different ages.”

Studies estimate that about 100 people under 20 years of age are killed on farms each year and more than 100,000 injured in agriculture-related activities. Agents associated with these deaths and injuries include tractors and other farm machinery, livestock, building structures, and falls.

The NIOSH initiative is funded at $5 million. Most of the funding will be awarded by NIOSH in competitive grants for research by outside institutions. Also through competitive grant funding, NIOSH plans to establish a national center to facilitate activities toward childhood agriculture injury prevention. The remainder of the funding will support internal NIOSH research. NIOSH published a request for applications for competitive research grants on March 10, 1997, and expects to issue a request for applications in late April 1997 to establish a national center.

NIOSH was created under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and became part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1973. CDC, the nation’s prevention agency, is responsible for translating scientific research into effective public health programs. NIOSH is the only federal institute mandated to conduct workplace safety and health research.

NIOSH has worked extensively with partners in the agricultural community to prevent farm injuries, including tractor roll-overs, entanglement in moving parts of heavy farm machinery, suffocation in grain bins, and electrocutions. It also funds agricultural research and injury prevention programs at university centers in 20 states.

Further information on NIOSH’s initiative on safety for children on farms and its other activities in agricultural safety and health is available by calling toll-free 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674) and on the NIOSH home page on the World Wide Web,

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