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Past Research

Bioaerosol Exposures and Models of Human Responses in Dairies

Principal Investigator: Stephen Reynolds, PhD, CIH, FAIHA, Colorado State University
Project Period: 2011-2017
Sponsor: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Bioaerosols are biological products that become airborne (aerosolized) and inhalable. Research has shown that inhalation of bioaerosols can cause inflammatory lung diseases. This study determined the effects of gram-positive bacteria on the etiology of respiratory diseases and used state-of-the-art technology to more fully characterize aerosolized particles in the agricultural environment. Methods to effectively reduce dusts were also explored. The objectives of this research were to apply powerful new tools to better characterize bioaerosols in dairies and to compare three different approaches for measuring the effects of bioaerosols in the lung: a traditional model using, a novel model using an aerosol sampler which includes human lung cells, and nasal samples taken from workers in these environments.

Selected Publications:
"Size, Composition, and Source Profiles of Inhalable Bioaersols from Colorado Dairies", Environmental Science and Technology (2017)

Exposure Assessment and Intervention Analysis (Dairy Ergonomics)

Principal Investigator: David Douphrate, PhD, MPT, MBA, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Project Period: 2011-2017
Sponsor: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

As dairy farms have become larger, dairy worker tasks have become more specialized resulting in higher repetitions, reduced rest time, awkward postures, and high muscle loads that increase the risk for musculoskeletal injuries. This project quantified and compared physical exposures in U.S. large-herd dairy parlors. This was accomplished using full-shift, direct measurement technology and clinically-relevant exposure metrics. This was the first study to use motion capture technology in the challenging work environments of milking parlors.

Selected Publications:
"Full-shift and task-specific upper extremity muscle activity among US large-herd dairy parlour workers", Ergonomics (2016)

"Evaluation of upper body kinematics and muscle activity during milking attachment task", International Journal of Idustrial Ergonomics (2017)

Enhancing Safety Training Effectiveness in Large-Herd Dairy Production

Principal Investigator: Noa Roman-Muñiz, DVM, MS, Colorado State University
Project Period: 2011-2017
Sponsor: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

We developed a training program that addresses critical training issues not often considered in traditional safety education and enhances existing safety curriculums. HICAHS researchers addressrf facilitators and barriers to safe work practices and adoption of training knowledge in Hispanic agricultural workers. The specific aims were to 1) Develop, implement, and evaluate safety workshops that enhance the effectiveness of safety training for dairy workers and managers and 2) Develop, implement, and evaluate an empirically-based dairy communication campaign designed around the strategies tested and refined in the dairy safety workshops.

Selected Publications
"Perceptions of Health and Safety among Immigrant Latino/a Dairy Workers in the U.S.", Frontiers in Public Health (2016)

"Survey: Dairy workers appreciate supervisors who prioritize both productivity and safety", Progressive Dairyman (2017)

"Occupational Safety and Health of Foreign-Born, Latinx Diary Workers in Colorado", Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (2019)

Exploring Shed Antimicrobials Exposures within High Plains Livestock Operations

Principal Investigator: Paul Gunderson, PhD, Marshfield Clinic
Project Period: 2013-2017
Sponsor: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Sub-therapeutic doses of antimicrobials have been administered to agricultural livestock, poultry, fish, cereal and oil crops within the United States for four decades or more. Antibiotic resistance organisms (ABRs) and traces of antimicrobials can be found in livestock feces, which may contribute to a greater environmental presence of drug-resistant organisms. This project quantified antimicrobials found within high plains livestock feces, soil and airborne dust to estimate dermal and respiratory exposures to shed antimicrobials. No prior studies had specifically assessed U.S. agricultural worker exposure to antimicrobials. The overall objective of this project was to identify and quantify shed antimicrobials to which agricultural workers are exposed through handling and applying liquid livestock manure slurry.

Development and Evaluation of a Computer-based ROPS Design Program

Principal Investigator: Paul Ayers, PhD, MS, University of Tennessee
Project Period: 2011-2016
Sponsor: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Roll-over protective structures (ROPS) are needed on tractors to prevent crushing the driver in case of a rollover. A current need in the United States is to retrofit older tractors with ROPS. This program provides ROPS retrofit designs (based on SAE J2194) for tractors that were engineered to receive a ROPS, but for which ROPS designs are lacking. The computer-based ROPS design program uses tractor dimensions and weight as input to develop a design (and associated mechanical drawings) that is easy to implement and construct, but still needs to be tested based on Engineering Standards for certification. An inventory parts list and associated material costs are also provided.  The programs was successfully tested with 3 ROPS designs, and is available to certified ROPS manufacturers.

Selected Publications:
"Development and Evaluation of a Computer-Based ROPS Design Program", Journal for Agircultural Safety and Health (2016)

"ROPS designs to protect operators during tractor rollovers", Journal of Terramechanics (2018)


See our annual reports for more past research projects.