Injury and Illness Prevention for the Pacific NW Dairy Industry

Worker’s compensation claims data show dairy workers have a higher injury rate than workers in other industries. Industry specific risks include acute injuries from animal assaults, slips and falls on wet surfaces, and chronic injuries from repetitive stress. For many hired diary workers, Spanish is their primary language.

Project Overview

We seek to reduce serious dairy worker injuries by tracking injuries, examining high risk work tasks with farmers and workers, and developing train-the-trainer programs and a best practices guide. The Dairy Safety Kit (DSK) was developed based on training needs identified in a survey of PNW dairy producers. Different safety formats and training approaches are being piloted to determine which have the greatest impact on dairy employee learning and safety. We also worked to establish a system to track dairy worker injuries. An online interactive dashboard was developed to share data visually with dairy stakeholders and partners. We combine expertise from Washington State University (WSU)’s Department of Animal Sciences, Washington State Department of Labor and Injuries (LNI) Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program, and the Washington State Dairy Federation.

Findings to Date

  • Review of Dairy industry workers compensation claims showed animal handling and slips of floors and walkways as the key injury prevention need and training priority. The Dairy Safety Kit training prioritizes these topics.
  • In Washington, we assessed PNASH’s interactive in-person training in Spanish (124 participants) compared to our training video (38 participants). Overall, we saw significant improvement in the pre- and post- knowledge scores for both groups with no significant difference between the two formats.
  • With the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, evaluated their training with 1,338 dairy workers. Results showed improved safety knowledge test scores. Education level was a key determinant of increase in safety knowledge, and therefore, safety training programs and their test questions need to address the needs of Spanish language workers with little or no formal education.
  • Findings from our Dairy Practice Survey support the feasibility of a train-the-trainer model to improve safety on dairy farms.

Other Accomplishments

  • We have expanded our partnerships to Idaho and Oregon states, working with partners to improve their safety training.
  • Published The Dairy Safety Kit has been adopted by the Dairy Safety Network and the WA Leaders Enabling Advanced Dairy Safety (LEADS) Train-the-Trainer Program. Participants are manager level and owners of WA state dairies. We currently have 35 enrolled participants representing dairies ranging from one employee to 150 employees.
  • This project and partnership served as the foundation for the new WSU-hosted train-the-trainer program, Leaders Enabling Advanced Dairy Safety (LEADS). Last year LEADS workshop trainings took place in Washington and Oregon, with 62 dairy safety leaders completing the course.
  • Hosted workshop, using scenario-based training, in partnership with Dr. Progar and the Washington State Dairy Federation.

Next Steps

Currently manuscripts are being prepared for publication on evaluation of our trainings in Washington state. We will continue to work with our partners to develop a sustainable regional training solution for dairy workers, including Spanish language.


Dairy Safety Toolkit | Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center - ENGISH/SPANISH

Partners and Advisories

  • Washington State University, Department of Animal Sciences
  • Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, SHARP Program
  • Washington State Fatality Assessment (FACE) Program
  • Washington State Dairy Federation 


Partnership for Dairy Safety and Health | Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center

Austin E, Adams-Progar A, Cruz I, Palmandez P, Dilley S, Yost M. Dairy Safety Kit: An Innovative Online Based Training and Outreach Solution. Journal of Agromedicine. 2021-2, 25(3):232.

Benoit M. Efficacy in Occupational Safety and Health Training of Dairy Workers: Predictors of Test Performance on a Dairy Safety Knowledge Test from a Demographic Cohort. 2021 Master’s of Public Health Thesis. Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. ResearchWorks.

Adams-Progar A, Kristula M, Hain MV. Dairy Cattle Handling Extension Programs: Training Workers and Cattle. The Journal of Extension. 2019, 57(4):7.

Report Injury and Illness Prevention for the Pacific NW Dairy Industry

Findings as reported at the end of year five are included in our annual report. 

Principal Investigator: Michael Yost, PhD, MS
Chair and Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
Director, Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center

NIOSH Funding Period 2016-2022