In the Field: Going International with the Seguridad Project
This week, Amy K. Liebman, MPA, MA Director of Environmental and Occupational Health, headed to Barcelona, Spain to present Seguridad en las lecherías, an award-winning health and safety intervention for immigrant workers in dairy that MCN developed along with the National Farm Medicine Center and the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center. About 50 conference goers attended her well-received presentation, which was part of EPICOH, the annual Epidemiology in Occupational Health Conference.
“Immigrant workers are increasingly employed on dairies throughout the world. In the US, as dairies consolidate and modernize, they depend on immigrant workers,” Liebman noted. In 2014, 51 percent of US milk was produced by immigrant labor, up from 33 percent in 2009 -- but on many dairy farms, the culturally and linguistically competent health and safety trainings these workers need were not implemented as the farms began to rely on these new hires. “This workforce doesn’t necessarily speak the same language as their supervisors, and they are unlikely to have had previous training in how to work safely on a dairy farm. Additionally, their immigration status may place them at further risk as they may fear job loss if they report hazards or injuries.”
The Seguridad project developed a train-the-trainer model in which workers on the dairy farm are trained to be able to train fellow workers, reinforce safety messages, serve as a liaison between workers and farmers, and assist farmers in recognizing potential safety hazards. The project is modeled after successful community health worker (CHW) programs, in which a trusted community member is trained to promote health in the community to facilitate better health outcomes. The Seguridad curriculum and model have helped workers better understand the risks of working with large animals and heavy machinery, and to communicate their safety and health needs.
At EPICOH, Liebman presented the worker model and the complementing curriculum as important resources for dairies employing immigrants. She also presented initial data which indicated that workers trained through the Seguridad model were safer at work, although more research is needed. “It was wonderful to get feedback from experts from all over the world in the field Occupational Health,” Liebman noted. The Seguridad project, conducted in partnership with the National Farm Medicine Center, is a project of the NIOSH-funded Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH). Learn more about the project and access the curriculum at MCN’s Seguridad project page.