Farm health and safety adoption through engineering and behaviour change
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The agriculture sector is one of the most hazardous occupations worldwide. The EU farming population is predominantly self-employed, who are largely outside the scope of EU occupational safety and health (OSH) legislation. Utilising effective communications approaches to transmit clear messages is a possible way of motivating farmer OSH adoption. The Public Health Model (PHM) of accident causation conceptualises an accident as occurring due to multiple interacting physical and human factors while the Social-Ecologic Framework enhances the PHM by defining various levels of the social environment which are influential on persons’ OSH actions. A knowledge gap exists in how farmers conceptualise accident causation. The aim of this study is to report findings of a Score Card exercise conducted among Irish farmers (n = 1,151) to reveal knowledge on farmers’ conceptualisation of accident causation where farmers ranked in order of importance up to five causes of farm accidents. First ranked items related to ‘machinery/ vehicles’, ‘organisational’ and ‘livestock’ as accident causation factors (92%). Overall rankings for up to five ranked causes identified six causes: ‘machinery/ vehicles’, ‘organisational’, ‘livestock’, ‘slurry related’, ‘trips, falls, buildings-related’ and ‘electrical’ (96.5%). The study data indicated that farmers’ perceptions of accident causes were inaccurate when compared with objective fatal farm accident data. The study concluded that communicating accurate and contemporary OSH messages to farmers has potential to assist with farm accident prevention. Based on the multiple and interacting risk factors arising in agriculture it is suggested that more elaborate study of farm accident prevention is warranted.