Skip to main content

MCN's Environmental and Occupational Health Program Initiatives

Printer-friendly version
Primary Care and Worker Protection

MCN is working on two projects with front-line providers to integrate a focus on environmental and occupational health into primary care.  These projects will strengthen the quality of care and meet the unique healthcare needs of the migrant population. MCN recognizes the majority of primary care providers, inlcuding those caring for the mobile poor, generally do not bring this environmental and occupational health perspective to their work.  MCN focuses on feasible changes in clinical practices to improve the recognition and management of occupational exposures and injuries.

With support from the Environmental Protection Agency, MCN's Workers and Health program partners with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to establish Environmental and Occupational Health Centers of Excellence. The partnership program includes on-site clinical training, the provision of resources and technical assistance, and peer-to-peer networking between front-line providers and occupational and environmental medicine specialists.

Since 2006 MCN has established 13 model Environmental and Occupational Health Centers of Excellence across the US and Puerto Rico.

MCN is working on a contract with NIOSH to exlore barriers to occupational health in primary care. This project brings together an expert advisory commitee to guide the research efforts and provide recommendations to NIOSH based on the findings. The advisory committee is made up of physicians, environmental and occupational health specialists, and academic leaders. 

Download a description of MCN's Workers and Health program

Dairy Worker Health and Safety

Migrant and immigrant agricultural workers and their families face unique environmental and occupational health risks. Work in agriculture is one of the most dangerous occupations in the US.

MCN and the National Farm Medicine Center are partnering to provide health and safety training to immigrant dairy workers in Wisconsin. The Seguridad en las lecherias project targets limited English proficient, hard-to-reach workers with culturally and linguistically appropriate safety messages. The project also tests the use of a promotor de salud model to reinforce the safety messages and support increased worker safety.

This effort is part of the newly formed Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center based out of the University of Minnesota. It is one of several dairy-focused projects targeting low-literate, limited English proficient, hard to reach immigrant workers.

Through the Susan Harwood Training Grant, MCN is developing OSHA-approved training and educational materials for immigrant dairy workers. MCN's training modules aim to address low literacy levels and cultural differences, which are often overlooked in safety and health trainings, while building English language skills. The bilingual picture dictionary,developed to compliment the training modules, includes important vocabulary and image-based safety messages to be utilized in agricultural work places and further adapted for other industries.

Protecting Children While Parents Work 

Children of agricultural workers are exposed to pesticides and other hazards when they accompany their parents to work. MCN is partnering with the National Children's Center for Rural Agricultural Health and Safety on a five-year project to facilitate the access of and availability to off-farm childcare services. The project will bring together stakeholders to determine best practices for creating family services for farmworkers. MCN will be conducting research and learning more about the barriers to off-farm childcare and strategies for best practices.

Educational Materials

MCN's educational materials targeting migrant farmworkers and their families utilize a culturally appropriate format to convey health and safety messages.

MCN’s efforts in environmental and occupational health also involve the development and distribution of clinical and patient resources, training of clinicians and stakeholders through webinars, conferences and onsite workshops, and extensive partnerships with organizations having expertise in pesticides, occupational and environmental medicine and agricultural medicine. MCN has developed a number of patient education materials and training products for lay health educators (promotores de salud) to educate farmworkers about the risks from pesticide exposure and ways to protect themselves and their families and distributes thousands of these resources each year.

Clinical Tools

In collaboration with partners and experts in occupational and environmental medicine and migrant health, MCN has developed tools for clinicians to translate need to practice.

**Many of MCN’s EOH efforts are supported through cooperative agreements with the US Environmental Protection Agency as part of their National Strategies for Health Care Providers: Pesticide Initiative. The conclusions and opinions expressed herein are those of MCN and do not necessarily reflect the positions and policies of the U.S. EPA.