BOZEMAN — A faculty member in the Montana State University College of Nursing has received a grant to examine how regulatory citations affect water access for workers at agricultural worksites.

Sally Moyce, assistant professor of nursing at Montana State University’s College of Nursing. MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez)

Sally Moyce, assistant professor of nursing, received a 2019 UPS Foundation Occupational Health Nurse Research Grant of $5,000 from the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Foundation.

“I’m honored to receive this grant,” Moyce said. “It’s important for nurses to conduct research, and nursing organizations that support nursing research encourage us. I feel very proud to have been selected.”

Moyce’s research, “Effect of State Regulatory Citations on Water Access in Agricultural Worksites,” investigates the effect that regulatory citations have on employers providing accessible drinking water to employees in agricultural work sites.

Moyce noted that people who work in outdoor agriculture are exposed to a number of threats to their health, not least of which is heat. Excess heat can lead to heat rash, heat stroke and, if not treated, death.

According to Moyce, it’s relatively easy to prevent heat-related illness in the agricultural settings, such as by drinking an adequate amount of water. In addition, policies are in place to ensure that employers offer water and preventive measures to their workers. However, it’s unclear if enforcing those policies increases the likelihood that they will be followed.

For her research, Moyce will use data from the California Occupational Health and Safety Administration as well as data from the National Agricultural Worker Survey to examine the effect of the California Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s citations that may be levied on employers for not following heat prevention policies.

Moyce said she hopes her research will shed light on the effectiveness of occupational enforcement and citations.

“If enforcement (of these policies) doesn’t actually change practice, then it’s not a wise use of resources,” Moyce said. “Many researchers, myself included, point to the need for better enforcement of existing policies to protect worker health. But we don’t have great evidence of how that enforcement influences the on-the-ground practices.”

Moyce “represents an occupational health nurse striving with passion and dedication to improve the quality of care given by occupational health nurses to workers,” said Jeannie K. Tomlinson, chair of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Foundation. “Our recipients are leaders in workforce health and safety, and the foundation is proud to provide funding for their research as they contribute to the profession.”

Moyce said she was inspired to become a nurse after working with migrant and seasonal farm workers as a community outreach worker in a community health clinic. She later worked with migrant and seasonal farm workers as a primary care nurse. Her doctoral dissertation focused on how heat exposure affects kidney health in agricultural workers.

Moyce has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Portland, a bachelor’s degree in English writing from Loyola Marymount University and a doctorate in nursing science and health care leadership from the University of California, Davis. Moyce came to MSU as an assistant professor in 2018.

Her research is closely linked to ethical standards to which she believes practicing nurses should be held.

“Advocating for vulnerable populations is part of the oath I took as a nurse, and policy interventions are one of the most effective ways to create change,” Moyce said. “I hope this work will help me see the effect of these policies.”

-by Anne Cantrell, MSU News Service -