Pilot Research Projects Selected for Funding to Improve Agricultural Worker Safety and Health

Dan Florida, Industry News Release, Research


University of Florida farm workers Juan Centeno, left, and Renaldo Ford harvest a large pumpkin at UF’s North Florida Research and Education Center in Live Oak, Wednesday – Oct. 29, 2003. Scientists at the center are testing 25 different varieties of pumpkins on four acres to learn which ones can be grown commercially in the region.

The Southeastern Coastal Center for Agricultural Health and Safety is awarding more than $56,000 to three pilot research projects to improve the safety and health of agricultural workers.

Scientists will use mobile app monitoring to prevent heat-related symptoms among Hispanic farmworkers; research mental, physical and occupational health issues among Haitian and Mexican migrant farmworkers; and identify work and movements to alleviate chronic lower back pain in seafood workers.

SCCAHS explores and addresses the occupational safety and health needs of workers in agriculture, fishing and forestry in Florida and the Southeast’s coastal states. The University of Florida is the lead institution for the center, partnering with the University of South Florida, Florida State University, Florida A&M University, Emory University and the University of the Virgin Islands.

John Luque, assistant professor of public health sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina, will receive $20,000 to test a mobile phone app to monitor whether Hispanic farmworkers report taking more breaks in the shade, wearing hats, avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages and increasing water intake after receiving heat-related illness education.

Gulcan Onel, assistant professor of food and resource economics at the University of Florida, will receive $16,000 to investigate the extent to which migrant farmworkers with different ethnic backgrounds and social networks face higher risks of mental, physical and occupational health issues.

Kim Dunleavy, an associate clinical professor in UF’s department of physical therapy, will receive $20,441 to conduct research on chronic low back pain in seafood workers. She will research clam workers in Cedar Key, Florida, to identify work-related movements and positions that aggravate or contribute to low back pain.

Second Round of Pilot Project Applicants Being Accepted

SCCAHS has just announced its second round of pilot project requests for funding. The Pilot/Feasibility Program will provide seed funds to stimulate original projects relevant to health and safety in the agricultural, forestry, and fishery (AFF) industries.

Projects may include basic/etiologic research, translational research, intervention studies and/or surveillance. The program’s goal is to provide early pilot/feasibility support to projects that ask innovative and important questions, and which lay the groundwork for subsequent research grant submissions or interventions, including outreach or extension projects.

While not required, projects are encouraged which fit within the broad themes of the center: coastal fishery worker safety and health; heat stress; pesticide/herbicide exposure; and innovative approaches to foster research to practice, including a focus on worker and supervisor training.

Due to the recent major hurricane activity affecting states and territories in the center’s region, the center is accepting “emergency” proposals, outside of the fixed timeframe for submissions, which focus on hurricane and other disaster-related issues relevant to the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries. Applications can be submitted at any time, and reviews will be expedited.

Funding may be requested for periods ranging up to 18 months. It is anticipated that project budgets will be in the range of $10,000 to $20,000. The intent of this program is to foster new and creative research and interventions, while also increasing the breadth and depth of the center’s overall program through interaction and support of other interested researchers and stakeholders from the center’s region.

Letters of Intent should be submitted to no later than December 1, 2017. For more information, visit the center’s website at