NIOSH Tractor Safety Initiative Meeting


Ag Centers: Steve Reynolds (Colorado State), Helen Holmquist-Johnson (Colorado State), John May (NYCAMH), Eric Swenson (Washington), Kris Borre (East Carolina), John Sabella (East Carolina), Jeff Levin (Texas), Torey Nalbone (Texas), Mark Purschwitz (Marshfield), Tom Bean (Ohio State), Juhua Liu (Colorado State), Risto Rautiainen (Iowa State), Hank Cole (Kentucky), Bob McKnight (Kentucky), Chike Anyaegbunam (Kentucky) NIOSH/CDC: Michael Galvin, Melissa Van Orman, Max Lum, Teri Palermo, Fred Blosser, Lee Husting
By telephone: Steve McCurdy (Davis) and Steve Olenchock (NIOSH/CDC).


The meeting generally followed the agenda below:


Opening remarks from Mike Galvin.
How does the tractor initiative reflect NIOSH’s commitment to r2p?


Tractor Initiative: The Bigger Picture
Steve Reynolds will review previous work in tractor safety promotion.
Max Lum and Melissa Van Orman will discuss branding and promoting the project.
Fred Blosser, NIOSH public affairs specialist, will discuss media relations strategies.


Overview of the Tractor Initiative
Steve Reynolds will review:

  1. Purpose
  2. Goals
  3. Timeline
  4. Project components
  5. Proposed outcomes
  6. Evaluation


Project Presentations 
Each project director or representative will give a 10-minute presentation covering:

  1. Overview
  2. Goals
  3. Timeline
  4. Outcomes
  5. Integration with larger initiative


Discussion of Project Integration and Outcomes
How will the project components work together?  What will be their outcome?


Next Steps
Group will discuss appropriate project milestones, meeting times and formats, and timeline for projects.


Mike Galvin opened the meeting by calling the Tractor Safety Initiative a “skyline project,” a high-profile effort with this team, exposed for everyone to see, leading the way to future programs. He emphasized that the Ag Centers will remain research-driven but bring additional tools to the Initiative. Mike noted that none of this meeting discussion is public yet, not until the award actually has been made. He concluded by saying that the Initiative is an important project for NIOSH. Failure is not an option on this project, the first to bring all the Centers together in a common effort, and the first real campaign NIOSH has supported.


Max began this discussion by saying that [NIOSH Director] Dr. John Howard likes to talk about agricultural products and the changing environment. Under this administration there is more review of agencies by the Office of Management and Budget and greater emphasis on outcomes. In 2006, agriculture will be the next big program to appear on the National Academy of Medicine’s agenda. Max hopes to be able to plug this project’s design into 2006 programs. He would like to see this project operate as a core, where all participants integrate their specific tasks into a single project, the Initiative as a whole. He said we need to learn how to talk about this project and in a consistent way. Max recommended Melissa Van Orman as a well-trained resource for branding and marketing the Initiative and its findings.

Steve emphasized the need for coordination and integration between the Centers and with NIOSH. He briefly discussed related efforts regarding tractor safety such as the TRAC project led by the Great Plains Center. The Initiative differs by including all Centers in a nationwide program. In the current effort, Steve suggested that we not lose sight of the comprehensive activities recommended by the Initiative that are essential for success and not part of the current projects. One recommendation in particular that can be acted on now is for NIOSH to propose and coordinate joint efforts with other federal agencies involved with tractor safety. NIOSH needs to support the Initiative beyond funding. NIOSH representatives are beginning to coordinate with other federal agencies. Lee and Mike have met with Brad Rein of USDA, and Lee will meet with him again in September in Atlanta.


Max addressed the need for a nationwide social marketing campaign. Areas for concentration include being audience-focused (selling), theory-based, research-driven, and personally relevant. Mike suggested the possibility of involving the National Council of Agricultural Employers. The National Cancer Institute four-step model to achieve goals (planning, developing, implementing, and assessing) was recommended.

Melissa then discussed some elements of social marketing:

  • Exchange Theory: How can we make the benefits of tractor safety outweigh the costs for members of our audience?
  • Call to Action: How can we make the requested action vividly clear and achievable for our audience?
  • The Four P’s: What will be our marketing strategy for product, price, place, and promotion?

The logo is not to be confused with the brand. Max feels the brand signifies the promise behind the logo. A logo can be fun, but it must be relevant to the mission while clearly identifying the product. It is an umbrella to unify things, to show that something is part of a given campaign. A good example of a broad campaign is the Stop That Noise Campaign sponsored by the European Agency Week for Safety and Health at Work ( Max expressed concern that our project may not be able to progress far enough to create a brand and associated promise within two years. He feels a logo would promote a national cohesiveness to the campaign, and could be used in presentations, on posters, and with media promotions.

Current promotion of the Initiative may be accomplished through e-news publications, CDC agricultural injury information, and partners such as NIFS and agricultural marketing groups. Steve and John suggested we consider how this step would affect regional partners, such as 4-H, Cooperative Extension, and FFA. Max believes the Initiative would be responsible for any promise or assurance made through it, and also said it makes sense to work with partners who are known and trusted in the agricultural community. The Ag Centers’ earned trust in the agricultural community is also a consideration. Mark suggested that agricultural marketing and agricultural journalism be looked at to see if there were things we could learn from these distinct specialties.

Media/Public Relations

Fred Blosser led a discussion of good media and public relations techniques. He said reporters receive many stories daily and like those with human interest, controversy, show-and-tell, and gadgets. He said in order for something to be a usable news story, it must include something new. He said occupational safety and health stories are a hard sell to major media, so we need to prepare by calling editors and reporters; getting members of Congress and other influential people to call them; and if the reporters/editors are still not interested, finding out why. He emphasized the need to keep things local to gain media interest. Max pointed out the need to use consistent talking points from state to state. Using a celebrity was considered a good idea to gain attention. Eric noted that Doc Watson had lost his son Merle in a tractor overturn and might serve as an ideal national spokesman. Hank pointed out that readers liked narratives. There was considerable discussion of the fact that there may be differing views of the Initiative between Initiative leaders and stakeholders, in terms of what stakeholders might or might not support.


Steve presented a brief overview of the project objectives and asked for clarification of individual sub-project goals to establish evaluation measures. He also offered an integrated timeline for review. Steve would like to plan regular, semi-annual face-to-face meetings, suggesting November and then approximately six months later in addition to meeting monthly by phone. He sees social marketing as the key to success of the project, noting that he continues collecting the CDC/NIOSH required IRB materials concerning this project specifically. He will e-mail the current spreadsheet outlining “just in time” documentation still needed. The status of Max, Melissa, and others as Key Personnel was discussed. Anyone listed as Key Personnel is required to document Human Subjects training and other support. Collaborators not actually doing research, such as Max and Melissa, are not considered Key Personnel. Risto Rautiainen asked if two separate IRB approvals are necessary for both the social marketing and cost projects at their Center and was told yes. Steve McCurdy confirmed his understanding that while an IRB exemption is unacceptable, an expedited request will satisfy the CDC “just in time” requirements. Wisconsin has been granted an exemption regarding the Social Marketing project, but NIOSH may question its acceptability. They are now pursing an expedited review and approval. Whether waiver of written consent was necessary was also discussed; the Kentucky IRB approved that waiver.

Initiative Evaluation

Helen Holmquist-Johnson discussed the evaluation plan, which will yield an identification of goals, feedback to determine the effectiveness of the Initiative, and assessment of the project as a whole, including leadership. The Year One evaluation will be formative and process-related, reflecting HICAHS’s and NIOSH’s establishing descriptives, individual project progress, and the lead Center’s effectiveness. HICAHS and PNASH will create an intranet with activity-monitoring instruments as part of the Initiative Web site project to help evaluation. Reporting of activities, contacts, products, audience, collaboration, partners, leveraging, and r2p are anticipated. Year Two evaluation by process and summary would identify each Center’s sub-program outcomes based on the project plan and theory, and the lead Center’s efficacy.


Costs of Tractor Operator Injuries from Overturns and Highway Collisions

The project involves five Centers: Kentucky, Colorado State, Iowa, North Carolina , and California Davis. Kentucky will lead the project, with Hank Cole as PI. This study will look at frequency, severity, and cost of fatal and non-fatal injuries from tractor overturns and roadway collisions, advancing two of the Initiative’s four sectors: Research, and Partners and Promotion.

The research portion of the project will use a population-based sample and two existing worker compensation databases. Cost analyses of five classes of increasingly severe injuries will be conducted. Partners will be developed for help in analyzing the cost-effectiveness of retrofitting ROPS or replacing non-ROPS tractors with ROPS-equipped tractors. Medical, non-medical and social costs will be studied. Researchers and partners participating in this portion of the project include Pinnacle Insurance, Risto, Michael Schulman (Kentucky), John Myers (NIOSH), and Paul Leigh (Davis).

Impact of Changes in ROPS Standards, Regulations, and Technology on Future ROPS Availability

This project involves Juhua Liu and Paul Ayers (Tennessee). It will look into new technologies for attaching ROPS to older tractors and variations in standards needed for newer high-speed tractors. The possibility of OSHA (No. 1928.51) requirements related to direct funding was mentioned and whether this rule was retroactive, possibly as far back as 1975, especially as it might relate to the Social Marketing and New Technologies portions of the Initiative. Year One of the project will review and compare five ROPS standards as well as collecting information on new technologies, high-speed tractors, and changes in regulations and standards. In Year Two, this information will be synthesized in order to project impacts on past and future ROPS availability.

Documentation of Acceptability and Procedures for Financial Incentives for Rollover Protective Structures (ROPS) Retrofitting

Mark Purschwitz noted the Marshfield/Iowa collaboration plans to contact dealers, leaders of farm organizations, and manufacturers and to gain insight into attitudes and opinions on financial incentives for retrofitting. This will complement the social marketing project, and Steve suggested integration of these two projects is critical. Mark will coordinate with Kentucky on both social marketing and previous work with dealers done by Kentucky.

Interest in financial incentives for ROPS retrofitting is anticipated from manufacturers, dealers, and the Farm Bureau. It was suggested that insurance companies be added to this project. Examples of questions that will be asked of manufacturers or dealers include whether they manufacture, sell, or install ROPS; whether they would be willing to gear up for large numbers of retrofits; what they think of financial incentives for retrofitting; to whom incentives should be given; and what amount would be effective. It was mentioned that an issue of liability may come into question also, with respect to willingness to release past designs.

Designing Community-based Social Marketing Programs for Tractor Safety

The ROPS retrofitting concerns, as well as others that may arise, can be integrated into an expressed need for partners to continually highlight the economics of using ROPS. Max reminded the group that r2p needs to be a constant agenda item, promoting positioning towards practice or use of research. Chike presented one way of looking at the framework of the Initiative as the RACE model: Research, Action, Communication, and Evaluation.

Four focus groups in nine states (304 participants in all) will be surveyed. Kentucky will coordinate local community workshops, and NIOSH will work within the health community, leading to Ag Center distribution of information. The possibility of drawing on Melissa’s and Canadian expertise was discussed. Canada has recently launched a major farm safety campaign. Both Melissa and Eric have met with Bruce Johnson, who directs an agricultural safety program in British Columbia, and other parties to the Canadian campaign. Hank Cole mentioned the role of the ROPS notebook in this project.

NIOSH offered to assist with the development of generic press kits or media guides to establish the Centers as information sources when the research is ready to share.

Web site/Database

Working with the NIOSH Office of Communications and HICAHS, PNASH will be the “voice” or public face of the Initiative and a clearinghouse of downloadable information and links. The Web site could eventually serve as a magnet on tractor safety. If project funding started in early fall, the site could be launched by March 2006. The purpose of the Web site was discussed, including expected participants and project integration. It was suggested that the Web site should more immediately serve as an internal tool for the Initiative, to link and coordinate all of the sub-activities and facilitate data exchange between the Centers. The initial site would also include information and documents about the Initiative and contacts for the agriculture and safety community/potential partners. Max thought that the Web site will be one of those projects that lasts beyond its grant period. The foundation of the database will be contact information from each of the nine Centers entered through the intranet. Details on the process and timeline will be circulated as soon as the system is established.

Project Integration and Outcomes

The Web site/intranet was mentioned as an instrument of integration. The discussion of how the project components will work together, however, was shortened by time constraints. This subject will be taken up at our next meeting.


It was agreed the Initiative addresses an important, continuing problem, which over the last 15 years has not been resolved. The national reach, involving all Ag Centers in one project for the first time, brings a new dynamic to addressing the problem. The Initiative, rather than being a collection of projects, represents pursuit of a focused and integrated study, with the likelihood of producing larger results and more synergy in the area.

The following future actions and responsible parties were agreed upon:

Complete IRB “just in time” documentation – All
Consider ways to maximize integration – All
Complete schedules/measurable objectives – All 
Review and ensure that objectives are clear and measurable –  All
Complete subcontracts – Steve
Schedule next meetings and explore Elluminate options – Steve
Compose and circulate summary of this meeting – Steve and Eric
Create intranet to help coordinate and integrate Ag Center work on the Initiative as soon as possible, post meeting presentations, and NIFS poster (as soon as grant is announced) to public part of site -- Eric
Review Canadian programs with Bruce Johnson, FARSHA director – Eric, Melissa, and Max
E-mail  PowerPoint presentations to all Centers – Melissa
Begin thinking/working on logo and micromedia press kits – Max and Melissa
Begin work with other designated federal partners – Lee

Items for discussion at next meeting:
Clarify Call to Action
Clarify (with NIOSH assistance) audience and scope for Web site and schedule for posting
Identify partners that we want to involve right now beyond the two named at this meeting: Carol Letohla, Extension Specialist, University of Florida (runs NASD) and Brad Rein of USDA

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