The occupational fatality rate in the beef cattle ranching and farming industries (including feedyards) was 116 fatalities/100,000 workers in 2014. This rate was four times higher than the rate in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector overall (24.9/100,000) and 34 times higher than the rate in all industries combined (3.4/100,000). The cattle feedyard subsector also has exceptionally high non-fatal injury and illness rates. In 2013, hired workers in the beef cattle ranching and farming had a “days away from work” rate of 258.8/10,000 while the rate for all industries combined was 99.9/10,000. There is increasing recognition that reducing injuries and illnesses among workers is a critical part of retaining a skilled workforce, decreasing losses and improving sustainability of the operation. Data collected at a feedyard roundtable in 2015 indicated that there is increasing demand and opportunities for safety training on cattle feedyards.
In fall 2017, researchers from the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, representative from workers compensation insurance providers, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co and Agri-Services Agency LLC, and ethnographer Casper Bendixsen, began working in collaboration on a research based, data driven project.
This project aims to develop and implement a comprehensive feedyard safety and health training program and evaluate the efficacy of the program. Using a systematic approach to research, development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of evidence-based interventions, with industry and stakeholder participation, this project will employ innovative approaches to safety and health.
These innovative approaches include:
- Development of a Feedyard Safety Advisory Board (FSAB) that will be actively engaged in the development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of the program, nationally;
- Creating a new safety and health program model that is acceptable to the feedyard industry, both employers and employees;
- Collaborating with insurers of feedyards and having access to their clients to recruit study sites;
- Having access to Workers’ Compensation data to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention, using retrospective and prospective data for the study sites;
- Estimating the burden of injuries and illnesses in the cattle feedyard sector using data generated in the project as well as national data from available sources;
- Applying the Rapid Multi-Sited Ethnography (Job Shadowing) for qualitative data collection at study sites to investigate worker perspectives on injury, illness, prevention, and program impact; and
- Developing first of its kind feedyard commendation process for program sustainability; created, reviewed and managed by a network of feedyard stakeholders and safety and health experts.
This project will significantly expand the current knowledge of injury characteristics and burden of injury, as well as employer and employee views regarding injury prevention on feedyards. Working in collaboration with industry and insurance partners and workers, this project will create a new evidence-based program model that can be implemented widely in the cattle feedyard industry, reducing the high rates of injuries, illnesses, and deaths in this occupational sector.