The Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (WCAHS)
Due to the dry climate, diverse crop types and workforce, agriculture in the Western United States differs in many ways from the rest of the country. For this reason, the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (WCAHS) began operating in 1991 as one of the original two NIOSH Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education and Prevention, today there are ten. WCAHS’ main geographic area of responsibility includes California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii.
Based at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), WCAHS is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program dedicated to the understanding and prevention of illness and injury in Western agriculture. Our overall goal is to improve the health and safety of farmers, farm workers and their families, and communities. We aim to be a leader in this field by partnering with diverse stakeholders, conducting innovative multidisciplinary research, providing education that links into established health education networks, and demonstrating effective outreach and translation of all Center activities.
WCAHS has built upon UC Davis’s long-established history of being at the forefront of agricultural and public health research. Notably, the first agricultural tractor roll-over protection structure (ROPS) in the United States resulted from research by faculty in the UC Davis Agricultural Engineering Department in 1956. WCAHS scientists have developed state-of-the-art solutions to agricultural safety that have served as models for best practices and have been adopted at regional, national and international levels, including real-time pesticide exposure bioassays, ergonomically improved tools to reduce cumulative trauma injury in agricultural workers, and a state-mandated heat-related illness education campaign.
What is the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety Doing?
- FOCUSING ITS ATTENTION ON AGRICULTURAL HEALTH AND SAFETY. WCAHS brings together multidisciplinary experts from the UC Davis Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, and the Colleges of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Engineering to focus attention and research on the problems of health and safety in Western agriculture. This collaboration helps to leverage increased resources and much-needed attention from state and national agencies to improve the health and safety of Western farmers, farm workers and their families, and communities.
- DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE AND EFFECTIVE OUTREACH PROGRAMS. Innovative and effective outreach programs developed and implemented by WCAHS have improved health among pesticide applicators, farmers, farm workers and their family members.
- DESIGNING SAFER EQUIPMENT AND WORK PRACTICES. Agricultural engineering programs supported by WCAHS are continuing to design safer and more ergonomic farm equipment to reduce traumatic and cumulative trauma injuries.
- IDENTIFYING RISK FACTORS. Researchers in the UC Davis School of Medicine are identifying risk factors for acute and chronic illnesses due to toxic exposures so that effective prevention practices can be targeted to those individuals at highest risk.
- CREATING BETTER COMMUNICATION. WCAHS is a forum for agricultural health and safety communications. The Center continues to develop innovative and effective means of communication in the form of electronic media, newsletters, conferences, focused talks and courses, as well as investigator meetings, advisory panels and interactions among the agricultural community.
The Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program dedicated to the understanding and prevention of illness and injury in Western agriculture.