More than 750 farm workers attend GAP Connections safety events in three states
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- GAP Connections, a non-profit organization devoted to the development, maintenance and leadership support for agricultural standards and practices, recently held a series of free, bilingual on-farm safety and compliance training events in Georgia, Kentucky and North Carolina to assist growers in providing their farm workers training and resources related to safety, health and regulatory topics. The workshops were attended by 227 growers and 753 workers.
Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Farmers and farm workers are at high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries. In 2011, the injury rate for farm workers was over 40 percent higher than the rate for all workers making these safety events crucial to the agricultural industry.
Sponsored by Universal Leaf North America, Alliance One International, Hail & Cotton, Philip Morris International, R.J. Reynolds, and the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina, this series of events was presented free of charge and in an interactive fashion to help workers understand the importance of farm safety and the prevention of injuries.
"The primary benefit of the event was to attempt to overcome the communication barrier with workers and encourage safety precautions at work," said Clint Hardy, Davies County Extension Agent for Agriculture in Kentucky. "At times, culture and language barriers can prevent a traditional grower from being able to easily convey health and safety training. The event in our area did a good job of explaining safety and regulatory topics and allowing for clarification in their native language."
These events covered many of the traditional safety topics such as first aid, CPR, pesticide safety, farm equipment safety, and heat illness prevention. In addition to safety topics, these events also included sexual harassment prevention and regulatory compliance topics such as government requirements related to housing, field sanitation, and the Migrant Seasonal Protection Act. It is important that both farmers and farm workers not only work toward a safe working environment but also understand their rights and responsibilities as an employer or worker.
"It is fantastic that the workers are able to learn in their own native language. A huge benefit for the workers is that they can move from station to station to learn a great deal of safety information in a structured way," said Regina Cullen, Bureau Chief Agriculture Safety and Health, North Carolina Department of Labor. "Being able to work with a large number of workers at one time, you are able to see a ripple effect in which the workers can then share the information that they have learned with others who may not have attended. It is also an invaluable tool for growers as well. Not long after one of the events, a worker passed out in the field and one of our growers who knew CPR from previous training was able to revive the worker who had an undiagnosed heart condition!"
GAP Connections is planning on offering additional bilingual training events for workers in the future to help share the importance of worker safety in additional states. For more information on future events or other trainings offered by GAP Connections, please call Jane Starnes, Executive Director, at 865-622-4606.
About GAP Connections
GAP Connections develops, maintains, and provides leadership for agricultural standards and practices. We seek to promote production that is competitive, sustainable, fair, compliant, and responsive to changing industry conditions and stakeholder needs. United around good agricultural practices, GAP Connections offers these advantages:
- Connecting farmers to education, resources and tools.
- Connecting companies to information about their farmers.
- Connecting the industry to other partners that can provide additional support.
Connecting the public (consumers, stakeholders and regulators) to information about industry efforts to protect, sustain and enhance the environment and ensure the safety and rights of farm laborers. For more information about GAP Connections, please visit our website at www.gapconnections.com.
SOURCE GAP Connections