Research to Practice


Research to Practice (R2P) transforms knowledge gained in scientific studies into practical solutions. At NYCAMH this means developing methods and tools which can reduce the risk of injury to agricultural populations. NYCAMH's work with migrant farmworkers and their employers provide examples of R2P.

Example of old pages of the manual Example of old pages of the manual The Farmworker Clinicians Manual Website The Farmworker Clinicians Manual Website

Migrant Clinicians Manual

Multi-Center Expansion of the NEC Migrant Clinician's Occupational Health Reference Manual 2011

In Collaboration with:

  • Migrant Clinicians Network
  • Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center
  • Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education

Occupational medical care typically involves an assessment of the patient's job tasks and work environment. A worksite visit and a detailed work history can be particularly challenging with migrant and seasonal farmworker patients, since access to the farm may be difficult, and workers are often fearful of the consequences of being completely forthcoming about their work environment. While a high proportion of adult medical visits pertain to occupational health problems, a minority of physicians and other clinicians have had occupational medical training. Therefore, there is a need both for a training resource, and an easy-to-use reference guide on the work environment in agriculture.

NYCAMH and the Northeast Center have been collecting occupational injury data on migrant and seasonal farmworkers for over fifteen years. In 2005, this data was translated into a clinician's occupational health reference manual for migrant health. This resource has been very well received, and starting in 2011 it was revised and expanded into a website This resources contains an expanded geographic area, more commodity and demographic groups, and provides a more technologically advanced website, featuring streaming video clips of the agricultural worksites, and a capacity for two-way communication between clinician users and agricultural health and safety experts.

In addition to expanding the geographic scope and the number of agricultural health and safety experts participating in this resource, we have developed the technology of the website into something that has a higher level of functionality. One of the most appealing tools for clinicians has been the agricultural worksite descriptions, with photos showing workers at their jobs.This assists the clinician in understanding the work environment so that work hazards can be identified and work activities revised to speed recovery. In this next phase of the manual, we have replaced the still photos, with video clips, to give a more complete picture of the work activity.

The prototype is being testing by the Bruneau family of Middlefield Orchards The prototype is being testing by the Bruneau family of Middlefield Orchards Dumping Dumping Picking Picking

Orchard Ergonomics

Research conducted by Giulia Earle-Richardson, PhD found that back strain was the most common injury among orchard workers. A follow up study concluded that using an ergonomic hip belt in combination with the picking bucket transferred weight from the back to the hips.

NYCAMH is currently testing a new picking bucket prototype. The new system features two detachable, padded bags, suspended from a harness which has both shoulder straps and a hip belt for better weight distribution. Better balance is achieved by dividing the weight on each side, allowing for more comfortable body movements, as well as having the advantage of pre-sorting fruit.

The two bags have a combined capacity of 40lbs and are constructed of rip stop nylon around a steel frame. The bags have half an inch of foam padding to prevent bruising and lever release rope tensioners for gentle emptying.

Blueberry Harvesting

Surveillance data also identified blueberry harvesting as a source of significant musculoskeletal injury. Working with Maine employers, farmworkers and the Maine Migrant Health Program in a community-based strategy, NEC researchers assisted in the testing of a series of alternative blueberry rake designs. Once the long handle rake was established as the best design, the team worked with a prominent rake producer in Maine to construct handles that could readily be attached to existing rakes. A handle installer was employed for one season by the NEC to visit camps and sell / install handles at half price. A field survey undertaken three years after completion of the project showed that 73% of rakes currently used in Maine blueberry barrens are of the new long handle design.

Safety Products As Fundraisers

Farmers traditionally underuse safety equipment. One reason for this is convenient access to products. Farm organizations, particularly youth oriented groups, consistently have fundraisers. NYCAMH has begun projects whereby farm organizations sell safety equipment and keep a portion of the sales as a fundraiser.

SMV Emblems

Motor vehicle accidents involving farm equipment are a fast growing cause of injuries to farmers. In response to this NY State strengthened its SMV laws. NYCAMH has started new projects to increase awareness and to sell SMV Emblems to local farmers.