Journal of Agromedicine “Leader in the Field” 2018: Dennis J. Murphy, PhD

As a leader in agricultural safety and health, we can’t imagine anyone is more widely respected and deserving of this award than Dr. Dennis Murphy." By Barbara C. Lee PhD, Senior Associate Editor
Journal of Agromedicine “Leader in the Field” 2018: Dennis J. Murphy, PhD - News


There are countless reasons why Dr. Dennis Murphy is worthy of being honored as the 2018 Journal of Agromedicine “Leader in the Field.” Murphy is known nationally and internationally for his professional contributions to agricultural safety and health based upon his work as an educator, researcher, trainer, author, and innovator. But mostly, he is known as a Leader.

Murphy has been involved in the academic training of many current-day agricultural safety professionals as well as others in allied disciplines. As a professor at Penn State with the Nationwide Insurance Endowed Professorship, he has been at the forefront of university-based training. He has personally mentored both university students and individuals in the private sector such as insurance risk managers. More recently he has facilitated the development and implementation of a certificate course to help establish a core level of knowledge in the agricultural safety and health profession, and a new safety and health risk management (AgSHARPTM) certificate workshop for agricultural operation managers and frontline supervisors.

As a researcher, Murphy has been the Principal Investigator on numerous research studies and intervention activities funded by US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and other state, federal, and private funding agencies. Additionally, he has collaborated with scientists at nearly all the NIOSH Agricultural Research Centers. His research track record far exceeds that of many people who conduct research on a full-time basis. Additionally, he has been involved in peer-review mechanisms that critique others’ research to help build a solid knowledge base for agricultural safety and health.

To escape the office routine, Murphy loves to get out into the field and participate in hands-on training for farm workers, farm emergency service providers, and youth learning to farm. His role in public events and farm shows involves significant interactive learning simulators and full-scale, remote control safety demonstrations that must “weather” all types of conditions.

Dennis Murphy “wrote the book” on agricultural safety and his textbook Safety and Health for Production Agriculture remains a primary source of information for individuals entering this field. He has authored several books, book chapters, numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, commentaries, and editorials. A huge contribution to our field was his service as the founding Editor of Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health for more than a decade. In addition, he interacts with the media to ensure the general public understands the issues associated with agricultural trauma and disease.

Dennis Murphy has been an innovator and leading thinker regarding emerging issues and national priorities. In 2003 his perspectives on Looking Beneath the Surface of Agricultural Safety and Health were published. His review of historical events and current practices guided his recommendations for public/private sector action for addressing the many interrelated problems and challenges we face in our efforts to safeguard farmers and their families. In 2006 he was co-founder of the Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America (ASHCA), which now serves as the voice of agribusiness and farm organizations in promoting a culture of safety across the industry. Over the years Murphy has been invited to serve on many advisory boards because his understanding of issues and vision for the future is highly valued.

Murphy always knew he wanted a career in agriculture. He earned degrees in general agriculture (bachelor’s) and occupational safety and health (master’s) from Illinois State University, and received his doctorate in agricultural education from Penn State University.

Dr. Murphy retired from the Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, College of Agricultural Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, on June 30, 2017, as the Nationwide Insurance Professor of Agricultural Safety & Health. He currently holds the title of Nationwide Insurance Professor Emeritus. He founded Murphy Agricultural Safety Consulting, LLC, in July 2017.

Program areas that were current at the time of his retirement from Penn State include applied research and education for: tractor and machinery safety issues; youth safety; classification of agricultural deaths and injuries; agricultural safety and health management; methods of modifying farm worker safety behavior; evaluating safety interventions; dairy farm and manure-handling safety; and responding to farm injury emergencies. He consults nationally and internationally with other groups and organizations on farm safety education program development.

Murphy has demonstrated his leadership through his academic roles, professional commitments, service on nonprofit organization boards, and, most relevant to this award, his leadership roles over the past 40 years. As a leader in agricultural safety and health, we can’t imagine anyone is more widely respected and deserving of this award than Dr. Dennis Murphy.

By Barbara C. Lee PhD
Senior Associate Editor

This article can be found at Journal of Agromedicine

NOTE: The Journal of Agromedicine announces its Leader in the Field in the first issue of each volume. The recognition goes to an individual who has made significant contributions in agricultural safety and health practice, policy, and research. Previous honorees: Dr. James Dosman, University of Saskatchewan (2008); Kelley Donham, University of Iowa (2009); Cheryl Tevis, Successful Farming magazine (2010); Dr. George Conway, NIOSH (2011); William Field, Purdue University (2012); Art Kerschner Jr., US Department of Labor (2013); Tom Harkin, US Senator, Iowa (2014); Dr. John May, Bassett Healthcare, New York (2015); Kevin Keaney, US Environmental Protection Agency (2016); and William J. Nelson, CHS Foundation (2017).