Health and safety practices among farmers and other workers: a needs assessment
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Hope, A. Kelleher, C.; Holmes, L.; Hennessy, T. (1999). Health and safety practices among farmers and other workers: a needs assessment. Occupational Medicine 49 (4), 231-235
The development of appropriate health and safety interventions for farmers and agri-workers is important world-wide but data on present practices and attitudes to change are lacking. A representative quota sample (n = 1,938) of the Irish population was surveyed on lifestyle practices and workplace risk assessment and control measures, in relation to chemical exposure, manual handling and machinery. Focus group discussions were conducted also with 47 representatives of national farming organizations. As compared with the general workforce, farmers had a significantly (p < 0.01) lower level of assessment of risk hazards associated with manual handling and machinery. Both farmers and employees in workplaces with less than 20 employees reported a significantly lower level of safety training. Male farmers had a particularly negative health profile with only 18% reporting regular dental checks, 26% practising skin protection and 29% taking regular exercise. Discussions indicated that barriers to change included low perceived susceptibility, lack of time and resources. Mental health issues were particularly highlighted. We conclude farmers differ significantly in many instances from the rest of the workforce in regard to occupational health and safety issues and specific interventions in key areas are required for the agri-sector.