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Local/Regional News

UK-EKU To Share $5M CDC Grant For Occupational Health And Safety In Appalachia

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CARERC
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The University of Kentucky’s Central Appalachian Regional Education and Research Center has been awarded a $5 M grant.

The money from the U-S Centers For Disease Control will be used to help train more graduate students and get them out in the field.  The funding was secured by Republican Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers, who chairs the powerful House Appropriations and Revenue Committee.  Rogers said the grant will  "provide students with funding that they need to succeed in the Appalachian region.  It will also ease the burden of many of our smaller businesses that can’t afford to hire full time staff to focus on occupational safety.”

The Center is a collaborative effort between UK and Eastern Kentucky University.  Two students who stand to benefit from the investment also spoke at Wednesday's announcement.  Bryan Basford and John Flunker described what they had learned so far and what they hoped to accomplish upon graduation.

“So now I’m gaining the education.  I’m in my second year at Eastern Kentucky University studying safety, security and emergency management, pursuing research on funding sources for safety and security enhancements in our mass transit systems,” Basford said.

“In addition to the research the field site visits that we’ve gone on have been incredibly helpful.  We took a course this past spring in which we visited a coal mine the Y-12 plant outside of Knoxville, we visited a milk processing facility and also a bourbon distillery.  That experience was integral to me understanding the risks that individuals have on a daily basis in their occupations,” Flunker said.

CARERC director Dr. Wayne Sanderson said such workers are vital to the future of the region.

"As you know Central Appalachia has some of the most hazardous industries we have.  Coal mining is often mentioned but certainly timber and logging is also considered one of the more hazardous occupations.  Our hardwood forests are some of the best in the world and we have a lot of logging in that region.  We also have a lot of agriculture.  This is a very rural area.  So those are some of the more hazardous occupations and there needs to be focus on training people to help in those areas," Sanderson said.

The grant amounts to one million dollars a year for the next five years.