The U.S. Department of Labor-Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has awarded the Institute for Health Logistics & Analytics (IHLA) at Georgia Southern University two grants totaling more than $310,000 to provide training and education to help agribusiness owners and agricultural workers in Georgia.

OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grants Program funds grants to nonprofit organizations annually based on congressional appropriations with the goal of improving worker health. At Georgia Southern, these grants will fund agribusiness training and education and help prepare owners and workers for future zoonotic disease outbreaks leveraging a “One Health” approach.

“Infectious diseases can have a significant impact on the agricultural sector ranging from market disruptions to employee absenteeism,” said Jessica Schwind, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology and the director of the IHLA.

“Agribusiness owners and agricultural workers, especially those in livestock and poultry confinement agriculture, should be trained on various topics related to infectious diseases and the proper precautionary measures to reduce the potential for transmission.”

The One Health approach recognizes the health of humans, animals and our shared environment interconnect. Through increased cooperation, communication and collaboration across human, animal, and environmental sectors, the IHLA views the One Health approach as a crucial component to improving planetary health, Schwind said.

In pursuit of this mission, the IHLA recently teamed with Georgia Grown, a marketing and economic development program of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, to spread awareness of One Health at this year’s Georgia National Fair in Perry, Georgia, and Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia. An educational display informed visitors about the importance of the human-animal bond and the many different ways our health is reliant on healthy animals and healthy environments. Community outreach collaborations such as these are what makes the OSHA grants more impactful when awarded. 

“We are excited to partner with the agricultural community throughout the state of Georgia to bring evidence-based One Health approaches into the farms and fields to not just keep those in agribusiness safe but the animals and our communities healthy as well,” says Jill Johns, project manager at the IHLA. “We are grateful for the opportunity to work with OSHA to make that happen.”

For more information about the IHLA, visit https://research.georgiasouthern.edu/health-logistics/ or email  ihla@georgiasouthern.edu