Development of a Community Theater Troupe: Health and Farm Safety Training for Hispanic Agricultural Workers

(NIOSH 2001-2004) The EWU Center for Farm Health and Safety developed a successful program that uses Spanish-language theater to provide farm workers with information on health hazards and prevention strategies. Based on data gathered from health and safety literature, key informant interviews, and a farm worker focus group, it was apparent that health and safety education must be sensitive to the literacy and language constraints of this worker population. Theater was selected as a method of providing farm health and safety education because it does not require a high level of literacy. The most urgent health and safety needs of Hispanic farm workers and their families were identified through a series of focus groups. The information gathered in the needs assessment was used to develop four one-act plays written and presented in Spanish. The overwhelming response from the grower community and youth work-training/education organizations over the course of the project was positive.  Both of these groups were interested in sustaining the safety plays program. This project identified a feasibility barrier in that the agricultural industry and communities in Washington do not have the capacity to sustain an ongoing safety education program as intensive as a community theater troupe. However, we identified an acceptable format and the most relevant topics for the community, and produced a polished video of the pesticide safety and workplace ergonomics play.