USU professors develop respirator training program

Department Head Bruce Miller (left) and professor Michael Pate (middle) accept a check from Dan Hair, chief risk officer of the Worker's Compensation Fund (right). The group stands in front of the mobile respirator training unit.

A mobile training course designed to educate agricultural workers on respirator safety has received support from state and national organizations.

Utah State University professors Michael Pate and Richard Beard created the program.

“Our goal is to have something that is mobile, that can transport to work sites so employees can get on-the-job training,” said Dr. Pate. “It is an opportunity to bring an idea to the field so that the workers don’t have to feel exposed by coming out to a location where they might have to lose work time. It is also a way to get producers involved in helping keep their workers safe.”

The two-part training uses a climate-controlled trailer with online instruction and individual respirator fittings.

Pate said training will be open to anyone who works in agriculture settings and who deals with chemicals, fumes or dust.

“Dr. Beard is more of an agriculture engineer and has been involved with agricultural safety as far as pesticide applicator training workshops. My background is more in agriculture education. I taught high school agriculture for a few years before going back to school to complete a doctorate.”

He said the respirator training will focus on the three different types of respirators available.

“One is the disposable respirators you wear for dust, we call them N95. Also there are those respirators that are considered re-usable, the ones with the disposable cartridges in working with chemicals and fumes. And then there are the respirators that provide an air supply that is clean or filtered through either a supply line or a tank.”

The concept for the course resulted from Dr. Pate’s survey of Utah farmers and ranchers dealing with confined space safety.

“We asked them what they thought were risks working in grain bins or dusty situations where there is not a lot of ventilation and we asked if they would be interested in respirator training. The majority of those responding said yes.”

The Workers Compensation Fund presented Pate with a $2,000 check and he also received at $10,000 grant from the Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America.

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