CDC website spotlights USF project promoting citrus worker eye safety

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Safety glasses protect citrus workers’ eyes from the hazards of whipping branches and flying debris.

A USF College of Public Health Prevention Research Center project to help prevent eye injuries among Central Florida citrus workers is featured prominently on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention PRC website. (Read CDC-posted story.)

Through its Partnership for Citrus Worker Health initiative, the Florida Prevention Research Center at USF has trained dozens of workers who pick oranges to be health promoters. These specially-trained citrus workers then teach their peers about eye safety, including the importance of wearing safety glasses – a protective measure estimated to prevent 90 percent of eye injuries. The PRC, led by project director Paul Monaghan, PhD, works with a coalition of citrus pickers, citrus industry representatives, migrant farm worker advocates, and social service personnel in the rural areas of Dade City, Clewiston and Immokalee.

USF is the only one of 33 PRCs nationwide to specialize in an innovative planning framework known as community-based prevention marketing, said Carol Bryant, PhD, center co-director and principal investigator. “This framework blends sophisticated marketing techniques with the power of a community’s local wisdom to design preventive health interventions — such as promoting safety eyewear use among citrus workers.”

Other Florida Prevention Research Center at USF demonstration projects include preventing tobacco and alcohol use and promoting physical activity among youth. Disseminating the findings from these community-based prevention marketing projects through the CDC’s website, online journal and conferences has generated much interest in USF’s program, Dr. Bryant said. “As a result, we now provide technical assistance to other Prevention Research Centers and state health departments across the country.”

– By Anne DeLotto Baier