Farm employers throughout California have the opportunity to obtain free training and support materials that will help to improve farm worker motor vehicle safety associated with their operations.

Fresno State’s Center for Agricultural Business (CAB) is offering the support as part of its continuing Farm Worker Motor Vehicle Safe Driving Education Program. The purpose of the program is to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes, fatalities and injuries suffered by farm workers and other rural residents. Funding for the project has been provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Susan Harwood Training Grant Program.

“We asked the agricultural industry about priority issues. Growers and supervisors expressed interest in a program like this,” said Kimberly Naffziger, program development specialist for CAB and project director of the driving education effort.

To help educate drivers on safe driving habits, the CAB team has developed a multi-phase program that offers specialized training and materials at no charge, through September 2008, Naffziger said.

Training will include on-farm sessions for workers. A bilingual (Spanish) CAB program trainer will travel to a grower’s site to discuss motor vehicle topics such as traffic signs, railroad safety, traffic rules and regulations, safe driving behavior, and farm equipment driving or towing.

“We have received an overwhelmingly positive response from both workers as well as employers who have indicated that this training is extremely important,” Naffziger said.

Another phase of the program will offer “train the-trainer” sessions. These will be held at selected locations around the state several times during the late spring and summer. At these sessions, CAB program specialists will train managers and supervisors on how to conduct their own training using the free materials. The materials include a manual, a PowerPoint presentation for the trainer, two safety videos and a flip chart.

While the program is offered free of charge, the materials and trainers are available in limited amounts and for limited times, so scheduling and distribution will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

In addition to OSHA, the California Highway Patrol’s Central Division and the federal Railroad Administration provided support for the project. For more information or to arrange for materials or training, contact the CAB office at 559.278.4405.

(Copy by Steve Olson of the California Agricultural Technology Institute at Fresno State.)