Thoroughbred Worker Health and Safety Practices to be Studied
The five-year Thoroughbred Worker Health and Safety Study is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as part of the UK Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention. The study is led by Jennifer Swanberg, professor of social work and executive director of the Institute for Workplace Innovation (iwin) at UK.
The goal of the study is to improve safety for workers on Thoroughbred farms. Over the next four years, Swanberg's team will strive to better understand circumstances associated with illnesses and injuries experienced by workers throughout the project’s three phases.
The first phase will consist of in-depth interviews with farm owners, managers and human resources personnel. The second calls for community-based interviews with Thoroughbred workers. The third and final phase will involve the development and evaluation of worker safety resources to be distributed to owners, managers and workers on Thoroughbred farms in Kentucky.
In order to ensure the study addresses the concerns and interests of both industry and the workforce, it is guided by two advisory councils: a community advisory board composed of community service and health leaders, and an industry advisory board composed of leaders from Kentucky’s Thoroughbred industry. A full list of board members is available at http://iwin.uky.edu/thoroughbred. Both boards have been very supportive of the project, as has the Thoroughbred industry.
One such board member is David Switzer, executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, who praises the project’s focus on the industry’s worker safety and health challenges.
"Our organization represents a community of employers in the state of Kentucky with workforce challenges like any other," Switzer said. "We are excited about research that can help offer solutions to some of these challenges while improving safety conditions for our workforce."
Similarly, board member Scott Mallory, president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers’ Club, says: "Working with Thoroughbreds is dangerous, but the industry is mostly comprised of small farms that have limited resources. Any help we can receive in looking at the patterns and making recommendations is welcome."
Interviews with farm owners, managers, or human resource personnel began in October 2012 and will extend through summer 2013. The research team will be reaching out to Thoroughbred farms of all sizes to invite them to participate.
To learn more about the study or if you are interested in participating, visit http://iwin.uky.edu/thoroughbred, or contact the study’s project manager, Jess Miller Clouser at firstname.lastname@example.org or (859) 323-0587.