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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Kentucky Awarded $5 Million Grant to Advance Occupational Health and Safety in the Region

The Central Appalachian Regional Education and Research Center (CARERC), which is housed in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, has been awarded a five-year, $5 million grant to support and advance occupational health and safety in the Central Appalachian Region and Kentucky.  The grant, which is funded by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), will help sustain the CARERC as a recognized resource for occupational safety and health research and training in the Central Appalachian region.


Rates of occupational injuries and fatalities are higher in Kentucky and Appalachia than they are in the rest of the country.  Each state that is included in the CARERC reports high incidents of fatal occupational injuries, related to such areas as transportation, agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing, and mining.  According to Dr. Wayne Sanderson, Director of the CARERC and Interim Dean of the UK College of Public Health, attention to occupational safety in the region has been lacking. “While Central Appalachia has witnessed economic progress over the past several decades, systematic attention to the safety and health concerns of its work force has been limited,” he stated.

The CARERC was formed in 2012 as a combined use of academic resources from the UK colleges of public health, nursing, and engineering, as well as the college of justice and public safety at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky.  One of only 17 ERCs in the nation, it was developed to provide interdisciplinary graduate education for both students and health professionals in five areas of study: agricultural safety and health, occupational epidemiology, mining engineering safety and health, occupational health nursing, and occupational safety.

A full 70 percent of current funding goes directly to student support in the CARERC program, with the goal of turning out professionals who can turn the tide of occupational injury in the Region.  “The CARERC works to train professionals who are well equipped to identify and address workplace safety and health hazards, thereby preventing injuries and their associated costs,” Dr. Sanderson said.

In addition to its efforts with students, the CARERC also serves as a resource for industry, labor, government agencies, and others.  Many businesses in the region are too small to afford to staff a dedicated occupational safety professional, and instead assign the responsibility human resources or operations managers who often aren’t appropriately trained.  The CARERC strives to assist in those situations.

The program seeks to provide students and others with the opportunity to receive training in a number of disciplines in a hands-on format that prepares them for collaborative problem solving.  “There aren’t many courses or programs where you’re out in the field working with nurses, epidemiologists, and safety experts,” Dr. Sanderson remarked. “Everything we do is very interdisciplinary, which is how the real world works – people working together to solve problems.”

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