A New Generation of Ag Safety Advocates

Agriculture continues as the nation’s most dangerous occupation.  From 1992-2007, almost 8,100 farmers or farm workers died from work-related injuries. The leading cause, tractor overturns, killed 96 people per year on average. And, the economic consequences are many.  For example, each day about 243 agricultural workers suffer lost-work-time injuries. Five percent of these result in permanent impairment. Cost analyses (Myers, Cole & Mazur, 2009) show that these kinds of injuries result in about 1.12 million children and adolescents under 20 years of age resided on farms in 2006. About 590,000 of these youth worked on the farms and an additional 307,000 children and adolescents were hired to work on farms. An estimated 23,100 children and adolescents were injured on farms; 5,800 of these injuries were due to farm work (NIOSH, 2010 PAR website).

Who Will Advocate for Farm Youth Safety?

The school is at the center of most rural communities. Proven safety intervention models show that reaching at risk teens and adult farmers where they work and meet is the most effective means of delivering important safety information.

The Economics of Prevention Program uses a unique approach AND reaches at risk teens where they are each day -- in their high school classrooms.

By training pre-career teachers and extension agents, they act as safety advocates in their communities.

Data from the EOP1 grant show that many pre-career professional rural youth leaders have experiences with such injuries regardless of whether or not they have lived or worked on farms. Follow up interviews reveal that future teachers and youth leaders are agricultural safety advocates. Pre-post data document improvements in knowledge about these injury risks, how to prevent them and the huge individual and social costs that result from injuries. Thus, these teachers and other community youth leaders who have contact with at-risk youth and adult farmers acquired increased safety awareness that informs a sense of responsibility as change agents in the rural communities in which they work following graduation. An integrative, transdisciplinary model is proving effective to address the complex problems of preventing agricultural injury. Cultural, cognitive and behavioral aspects of the issue are addressed using theory and best practices from educational psychology, economic risk, cost & decision analysis and safety behavior change models (Mazur et al., 2009).