Nebraska Safety Center providing free health screenings, farm safety inspections

Writer: Todd Gottula, 308.865.8454,
Source: Dennis Holtz, 308.865.8562,

KEARNEY – Eight agricultural operations in central Nebraska are receiving free health screenings and farm safety inspections thanks to a Nebraska Safety Center grant.

The $15,000 grant, from Central States Center for Agricultural Safety & Health, is being used to prevent illness and injuries among agricultural workers and their families through its Certified Safe Farm program.

The Nebraska Safety Center in Kearney is partnering on the project with the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha and Kearney’s UNMC College of Nursing. All of the inspections and health screenings will occur in September and include Kearney-area farms that were randomly selected.

The private health screenings will be conducted by first-year nurses in training from the UNMC College of Nursing program in Kearney. They will use a mobile lab brought to the farm sites.

Farmers, their families and employees will be examined on site and given screenings for blood pressure, glucose, hearing loss, skin cancer and other health issues.

“Farmers don’t always get medical treatment and screenings they want and need,” said Dennis Holtz, transportation/ag training manager with the Nebraska Safety Center. “This screening makes it easy for them to identify potential health issues, set personal wellness goals and provide help in managing their health.”

In addition to health screenings, Nebraska Safety Center personnel will conduct safety inspections that include identifying, removing or fixing injury hazards on farm equipment.

“Our aim is to establish Certified Safe Farms and partner with insurance companies and other organizations so our agricultural workers are acknowledged for having effective farm safety awareness programs in place,” said Holtz. “Hopefully that compliance leads to a better record and can get farmers a break in insurance costs.”

Steph Berge, instructor in the College of Nursing program, said the health assessments offer valuable experience for student nurses.

“For a beginning nurse, it’s a great learning tool to go into an area and work where they know there is a high risk of trauma,” Berge said. “When they can identify things in an agricultural setting that impact health and how people become injured, that serves them very well later on in their careers.”