In 1970, the Code of Federal Regulations (Part 1500 of Title 29) prohibited the employment of youth under the age of 16 in certain occupations in agriculture designated as hazardous. However, through this regulation, programs were initiated to provide youth ages 14 and 15 with an opportunity to be trained in the safe operation of tractors (over 20 PTO horsepower) and farm equipment and subsequently be eligible for employment on farms.
The training programs, generally referred to as Tractor and Machinery Certification Programs, may be conducted by either 4-H Cooperative Extension Agents or Teachers of Agriculture. A specific number of hours of instruction and successful completion of a written and practical exam are required for certification, but there is no federal or state standardization to ensure uniformity of program content.
Research conducted in several states has indicated a high rate of injury and deaths among farm youth under the age of 18 and this indicates a need to examine the certification programs as to their effectiveness in improving safe work practices. As a first step in this evaluation, a survey of the instructors' and coordinators' perceptions of the Ohio Tractor Certification Program was conducted in 1993 by The Ohio State University. Cornell University replicated this study in New York with similar concerns and needs expressed by the survey participants. This suggests the possibility of coalition building between states to share resources, thereby enhancing the quality of the certification programs at a reasonable cost.
This research abstract was extracted from a portion of the proceedings of "Agricultural Safety and Health: Detection, Prevention and Intervention," a conference presented by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
E.L. Abend & H. Longhouse, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
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