Using direct input from horse farm employees, managers, and owners, a group of researchers based at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Public Health and the University of Maryland (UM), Baltimore, has developed a set of bilingual safety training materials designed to equip horse farm managers and workers with information needed to stay safe on the job.
The Thoroughbred Worker Health and Safety Study was a five-year research project aimed to improve the occupational safety and health of Thoroughbred farm workers. The study was co-led by Jess Miller Clouser, MPH, of the UK College of Public Health, and Jennifer Swanberg, PhD, a professor of social work at UM. The project was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health /Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the University of Kentucky Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention.
The research consisted of three phases:
- Researchers conducted 32 surveys and 26 in-depth interviews with farm owners, managers, and human resource personnel about the work environment and context of injuries and illnesses experienced by workers;
- They conducted community-based surveys with 225 Latino Thoroughbred farm workers about their experiences in the work environment and occupational injury and illness; and
- The researchers used an industry- and community-engaged process to create educational materials based on study data to provide to farms and workers.
As a result, the research team has released three types of educational materials at workersafetyandhealth.com/information-for-managers.
Safety on the Farm: A Bilingual Guide in Images For the Thoroughbred Worker
This series of 12 bilingual, graphic safety illustrations can be used as a training booklet or safety posters and aims to help educate both English- and Spanish-speaking workers about safety procedures on Thoroughbred farms and provide a shared language of safety. To create the content of the illustrations, the research team convened a working group of eight industry representatives including farm managers from small, medium, and large Thoroughbred farms; workers’ compensation and insurance representatives; human resource personnel; and communications associates.
Randy Gilbert, the manager at Shawnee Farm, former president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers’ Club and a member of the project’s Industry Advisory Council, was a participant in the working group that drafted the safety illustrations.
“At Shawnee Farm every year we have guys that come on visas to work with the horses and maintenance and communication is key for safety,” Gilbert said. “These safety posters will definitely help with communication.”
Laurette Durick, human resources manager at Godolphin also served on both the project’s industry advisory council and working group for the safety illustrations.
“These safety posters and booklets are fantastic,” she said. “This is a first of its kind, as I have never seen anything like this for horse handling and the equine industry.”
Tom Evans, owner and manager of Trackside Farm and member of the safety illustration working group, added, “I would wager that my employees are 100 times more likely to study an illustration versus read text. I think the illustrations provoke thought and show our employees that somebody cares about their safety.”
From the Field: Promising Health and Safety Practices on Thoroughbred Farms
In the in-depth interviews conducted with Thoroughbred farm representatives, participants described promising practices they employ to help improve employee safety and well-being, especially among non-English speaking workers. The From the Field report details those practices as a vehicle for farms to learn from one another.
Research Briefs That Communicate Study Findings
Participating farms often stated that they wanted to learn about the study findings. As such, the main findings have been summarized in a series of 10 research briefs that are organized by topic area (e.g., injuries, respiratory symptoms, communication, musculoskeletal discomfort) and are available at workersafetyandhealth.com/issue-briefs.
All materials are accessible for free on the project website at workersafetyandhealth.com. As funding permits, printed copies of the materials could also become available. If you have questions about the materials or would like to put your name on a waitlist for printed materials, please contact Clouser at email@example.com.
Jess Miller Clouser, MPH, research associate within UK’s College of Public Health, Department of Health, Behavior & Society, provided this information.