UK-EKU center gets $5 million to address occupational health and safety issues in Central Appalachia and Kentucky

A center based in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health has received a five-year, $5 million grant to advance occupational health and safety in Central Appalachia and Kentucky, the university reports.

The grant was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It will support the Central Appalachian Regional Education and Research Center as a “cohesive, fully equipped and recognized resource for occupational safety and health research and training in Central Appalachia,” a UK release says.

It says Central Appalachia has “high proportions of fatal occupational injuries related to transportation and highway incidents; injuries in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining.” However, “Systematic attention to the safety and health concerns of its work force has been limited,” CARERC Director Wayne Sanderson said.

CARERC was formed in 2012 by the colleges nursing, public health and engineering at UK as well as the College of Justice and Safety at Eastern Kentucky University. It is one of only 18 such centers in the nation and provides interdisciplinary graduate education for students and health professionals in five programs: agricultural safety and health, occupational epidemiology, mining engineering safety and health, occupational health nursing, and occupational safety.

Seventy percent of the funding will support students in the CARERC program. The center also serves as a resource for industry, labor, government agencies, and other stakeholders
and is partnering with stakeholders in the mining industry to develop new methods to reduce miners’ coal-dust exposure.

“There aren’t many courses or programs where you’re out in the field working with nurses, epidemiologists, and safety experts,” Sanderson said in the release. “Everything we do is very interdisciplinary, which is how the real world works — people working together to solve problems.”

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