Partnerships for Preventing Farm Injuries to Rural Youth

Youth who work on farms in the United States experience a fatality rate that is 3.6 times higher than young worker rates in all other industries and almost 3 times the rate among workers of all ages in all industries combined for 1992-2002 (Hard & Myers, 2006). Farm children and adolescents also experience high rates of non-fatal injury: The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that 22,648 agriculture-related injuries occurred among children and adolescents under the age of 20 who lived on, worked on, or visited a farm operation in 2001 (USDA, 2004). Youth ages 16-19 accounted for 23 percent of these 22,648 reported injuries (USDA, 2004). The purpose of this study was to illustrate how safety behaviors are cost effective from an individual’s perspective and from a larger social perspective.

Funded through CDC/NIOSH Cooperative Agreement U50 OH07547, the PFIRY project used narrative simulation exercises and their associated interactive cost-analysis tools to engage more than 400 students age 16 to 19 in four rural counties in thinking critically about the personal and societal costs of farming-related injuries and the cost-effectiveness of their prevention. According to the modified study design, the control group received none of the intervention materials. The partial treatment group completed one simulation exercise and its associated cost tool; the full treatment group completed two simulation exercises and two associated cost tools. The intervention materials were designed to increase students’ understanding of and commitment to the following preventive measures:

Three questions guided students’ inquiry as they completed the simulation exercises and cost tool analyses: (1) Who in this community is at risk of these types of injuries? (2) What are the costs of these injuries and who bears these costs? (3) In what ways can these injuries be prevented, and why is it cost effective to do so? Participating teachers reported that the combination of the simulation exercises followed by the interactive cost tool analyses were effective in making economics instruction relevant to and interesting for their students. In addition, teachers reported that the farming-related injuries presented in the case scenarios were real problems in their communities -- problems not typically addressed in formal classroom instruction. The teachers reported that the PFIRY project materials successfully integrate these public health issues into the core curriculum content they are required to teach.

Three of the simulations are currently available from the National Agricultural Safety Database under the simulation exercise section of the Kentucky ROPS Project. For more information or contact the Principal Investigator: Henry P. Cole, EdD Professor of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health University of Kentucky College of Public Health 1141 Red Mile Road, Suite 102 Lexington, KY 40504-9842 Phone: 859-323-6836/full report (pdf format)