UF researchers are planning to help workers in the agriculture industry stay safe.
The university received a grant of about $10 million Tuesday to fund the Southeastern and Coastal Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, a virtual agricultural safety and health center that will be within UF’s College of Public Health and Health Professions, said John Morris, the director of UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health gave UF the grant with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tracy Irani, the principal investigator of outreach for the agricultural center. UF’s proposal for the grant scored high enough to be awarded funding.
Evan Barton, the public relations specialist for UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, said the institute is currently working on projects involving worker safety in agricultural fields.
“A lot of these issues weren’t being studied actively,” he said. With the center, researchers will be able to explore the topics more.
The center will focus on Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina, Irani said.
Agriculture is the main focus because it has specific safety and health issues such as temperature stressors, she said.
UF was chosen for its geographical location and the unique agriculture in Florida, she said, adding the “prestigious” center will bring opportunities to the university.
“Certainly it helps further expand the university’s reputation as a flagship university,” she said.