For the 3rd year in a row, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the federal agency from which the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (WCAHS) receive funds is threatened by potential funding loss as the US Congress considers the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. WCAHS is part of the 10 regional Agricultural Safety and Health Centers under direction of NIOSH to provide education, information and research about agricultural health and safety to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers throughout the country.
The efforts of the NIOSH Agricultural Safety and Health Centers have significantly contributed to reducing agricultural work-related accidents, such as deaths from tractor rollovers and injuries to children working on farms. Recent projects of the Centers include teaching ways to rescue people trapped in grain bins and developing standards for the safe use of all-terrain vehicles, like 4-wheelers.
Funding levels to NIOSH will most likely be determined this summer. You can make your opinion known about the value of continuing to fund NIOSH and the Agricultural and Safety Centers by contacting your Congressional representatives.
Eight years ago, on February 13, 2006, I started work as the NIOSH funded Western Center for Agricultural Health & Safety (WCAHS) “Ag Center Manager.” It has been a rewarding experience, within a great work environment and with the most incredibly kind and talented co-workers anyone could hope for. Each day I looked forward to work, starting on occasion just after 5:00 AM with conversations, via telephone or email, with other NIOSH managers, researchers, administrators and/or staff around the nation.
Personal highlights for me include our collaboration with CalOSHA and Labor Occupational Health Program/UC Berkeley in which our Outreach & Education Specialist, Teresa Andrews, conducted Heat Illness Prevention workshops. From the Stockton Sikh Temple to one in Yuba City, the peach growers practically inhaled the training and asked for more. On the social events side, the Ag Center’s 20th Anniversary celebration in 2010 at the Robert Mondavi Institute on the University of California, Davis, was a crowning event for me. Dr. Bruce Hammock’s congratulations-on-a-great-event thank you card was pinned on my desk until my last day. If you have 10 minutes, you can watch our Anniversary video.
I am using my first WCAHS blog as an opportunity to say thank you to co-workers, our Ag Center Administrative Core Team, lead by the ever inspiring, creative thinker – founding and current WCAHS Director Marc Schenker, the invaluable and dedicated researchers Kent Pinkerton, Steve McCurdy, Frank Mitloehner, Fadi Fathallah and our money manager, Sherri Gallagher. You made it fun and easy, … most of the time!
The temporary Ag Center Manager, until my replacement is hired is Megan Hirsch – WCAHS at UC Davis is in good hands!