February 2004 // Volume 42 // Number 1 // Tools of the Trade // 1TOT5
NASD: The National Agricultural Safety Database--An Important Tool for Safety Programming
The National Agricultural Safety Database is an important and heavily used Web resource. We describe NASD and report the results of a user survey taken in 2003.
The National Agricultural Safety Database (NASD) is a Web-based repository of articles, fact sheets, research reports, presentations, and video abstracts (on the Web at: <http://www.cdc.gov/nasd>). 2003 is the tenth anniversary of NASD, and in that time, it has become one of the most heavily used resources in agricultural safety and health, receiving over 500,000 hits each month. Records show that these hits usually represent 75,000 unique users.
Materials in NASD are submitted by safety professionals and examined by an Editorial Review Board. In this way, users of NASD can have confidence that any materials they find in the database are current and credible. NASD is not just a collection of links; most submitted materials are included in the database and thus posted on the site. This is another convenience for users because, in most cases, once they have located a title of interest, the publication itself is readily available. "Linking out" is thus minimized. (However, time-sensitive materials, such as regulations, are included as links to original sources.)
NASD's objectives are to:
Provide a national information resource;
Identify and disseminate prevention information to agricultural workers on occupational hazards associated with injuries, deaths and illness;
Promote the consideration of safety and health issues in the management of agricultural operations for the purpose of reducing agricultural work-related injuries and illnesses; and
Provide a convenient way for members of the agricultural safety and health community to share educational and research materials with their colleagues.
Initial development of NASD began in October 1993. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) had recognized that although information exchange between state Extension Services was encouraged, research showed that awareness of other state's material and accessing materials was often hit-or-miss and inconvenient.
Funds from the Agricultural Health Promotion System (AHPS) grant program were made available to the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service (CES). Florida CES was actively engaged in a project to harness new software and hardware tools to create information distribution and retrieval products. Several such projects had been developed and distributed. These projects seemed like ideal models for NASD.
Over the next 6 years, a series of CD-ROMs containing the NASD database were released. Of course, during this time, the Internet was becoming more widely accepted and used. In 1996, NIOSH funded a 3-year program to update the database and deliver it on the World Wide Web. The NASD Web site was up and running by October 1997. 1999 saw the last release of NASD on CD-ROM.
In October 2001, NIOSH funded the current program to expand and maintain NASD. In 2002, USDA-CSREES (Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service) added funding support for NASD.
In Spring 2003, NASD users were invited to participate in an 11-question survey aimed at clarifying who was using NASD and how they were using it. The survey was available from May through the beginning of July 2003. The 11 survey questions are shown below.
- Where do you typically obtain agricultural safety and health information?
- On the average, how often do you use the Internet to find information about agricultural safety and health?
- Which Web sites have you used for agricultural safety and health information?
- Have you ever used NASD before?
- On average, how often do you use NASD to find information about agricultural safety and health?
- How important to you is NASD as an information resource?
- How did you first find out about NASD?
- Are you able to find enough information on NASD quickly and without frustration?
- Rank the top three agricultural safety topics of interest to you?
- Rank the top three types of materials you prefer.
- What field do you work in?
Approximately 150 users answered one or more questions (n varied from 67 to 152).
Survey results indicate that NASD is very important to its users and that they find it simple and effective to use. Over 80% of NASD users ranked the site as very important or somewhat important. The highest percentage of users were academics and Extension professionals, but significant numbers of users worked in safety-related fields. Agricultural owners and managers as well as government agency workers also use NASD.
The materials that most people are looking for are in the areas of machinery safety and chemicals/pesticides. Child safety, injury prevention, and electrical safety were ranked near the 50th percentile.
Extension figures prominently in the survey results as the source of most ag safety and health information for NASD users, as a substantial percentage of its users, and as the most used Web sites for ag safety and health information. Users are locating NASD and its resources primarily through their colleagues, conference presentations, and Web searches.
The materials users expressed strongest interest in were "ready-to-go" presentations, such as PowerPoint slide shows and Extension publications. Interestingly, a strong third in this category was research reports. A significant number of users (30th percentile) expressed an interest in online videos, a capability, which is now available on NASD.