December 1, 2023

COOPERSTOWN — The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has announced that it has renewed its funding for Bassett Healthcare Network’s Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety: Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (NEC) for five more years.

These funds will ensure that the organization will continue its mission of enhancing the safety and health of farming, forestry and fishing industry workers by researching solutions for preventing and treating occupational injury and illness through 2027. 

“This is welcome news at the NEC,” says Julie Sorensen, director of the NEC. “It took our team years to collect data, work with communities to identify their health and safety priorities, look at gaps in research, and determine which approaches would best meet their needs. We are thankful for NIOSH’s vote of confidence as demonstrated by their ongoing investment in our research and support of Northeast workers and industries in the years ahead.” 

The NEC has been serving agricultural businesses and workers since it was founded in the early 1990s. It carries out its mission through research, outreach, education, and clinical consultation. In its regional projects, NEC conducts research studying health and safety challenges faced by members of the agricultural community to propose, test, and implement possible workplace solutions. In New York State, these research solutions are shared with farmers and complement important state-based resources and services, such as the provision of safety equipment, training, respirator fit testing, and mobile vaccine clinics.

When the NEC first received NIOSH funding in 1992, it allowed the Center to expand the scope of its mission by supporting research and an expansion into the forestry and fishing industries, as well as farming. It also extended the Center’s reach to include twelve Northeast states (from Maine to Maryland). Although it receives important funds and grants from other sources, NIOSH provides the majority of NEC’s research funding.

“Research is such an important part of what makes our Center successful,” says Sorensen. “While we can provide technical assistance, training, or equipment, the workplace is constantly changing, as is the workforce. That means we consistently need to identify new and improved user-friendly, evidence-based solutions. This requires a commitment to understanding the problem and tackling it from a number of directions to see what works best.”

The Northeast Center (NEC) address occupational health and safety issues facing workers in the high-risk agricultural, forestry and fishing (AgFF) industries. It works in twelve states Maine to West Virginia. It is closely associated with the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) and Bassett Healthcare Network, all based out of Cooperstown.

It also frequently partner with other research, educational and occupational health institutions including the following universities: Pennsylvania State, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, George Mason and the University of Delaware, plus Cooperative Extension programs throughout the Northeast.

The Bassett Healthcare Network is an integrated health system that provides care and services to people living in a 5,600 square mile region in upstate New York. The organization includes five corporately affiliated hospitals, over two dozen community-based health centers, more than 20 school-based health centers, two skilled nursing facilities, and other health partners in related fields.

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