Drawing on Experience: Mexican-Origin Workers' Evaluation of Farm Safety Illustrations

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Stiles, Martha;
  • Domingo, I. V.;
  • Grieshop, James I.


Meanings of pictures are not universally understood. To assess the effectiveness of 16 illustrations currently used in printed farm safety materials, 39 farmworkers originally from Mexico were interviewed to measure their ability to interpret the illustrations. Two culturally diverse groups emerged: Group 1 composed of 18 from Mexican states other than Oaxaca and Group 2 composed of 21 Mixtec workers from Oaxaca, Mexico. Three dimensions (Understandability, Acceptability, and Preference) were examined. Frequency of use of mass media and exposure to farm safety trainings were found to significantly influence respondents' level of understanding. Group 1 demonstrated significantly greater ability in interpreting the meanings of all illustrations. Group 2 interpreted conceptual meaning with less than 50% accuracy.

Illustrations rated high on acceptability if they depicted people, activities, or objects that closely resembled respondents and/or their work situations. Physical features and manner of dressing were important details to farm workers. Preference (the preferred style of concepts rendered in two or more ways) was related to acceptability and understandability and was a function of whether (1) the preferred pictorial explained the concept better, and/or (2) was more aesthetically pleasing.

Data suggest that care is warranted when creating visual messages for culturally diverse groups. To ensure effectiveness of images, it is essential to assess the target audiences' understanding and to utilize visual conventions common to them. The results of this study point out that culturally appropriate pictures, language, and media are important in hazard communication where health and safety of workers are involved.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
Access this publication at: ASABE Technical Library

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