View Safety Through the Farmer's Eyes

  • Erisman, J. G.

More attention is being focused on the agricultural industry because of its accidental death, injury, and illness rate. Epidemiologists point out that accidents and illnesses result from the unique interaction of three variables -- people, agents, and environmental constraints. Countermeasure programs are directed at changing agents and environmental variables by engineering refinements and reducing the susceptibility of workers by changing their behavior. A disproportionate amount of the total effort is being directed at behavioral modification.

Lessons from the psychological field teach us it is impossible for someone to impose their motives on another person. We can influence the other's behavior only by operating within their motivational structure. One of the biggest limitations of success of safety and health programs is their lack of understanding of the motivational structure of those people they are trying to change. Safety and health professionals must develop empathy for farmers, farm family members, and farm workers in order to become more effective in their work. They must learn to view things through the farmer's eyes.

Effective communication involves three components -- a sender, a receiver, and the medium through which the message passes. Common safety and health messages will be examined from different perspectives. Suggestions for improving message effectiveness will be provided.

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.

J.G. Erisman, Ph.D., C.S.P., Farmer and Safety Consultant, R.R.1 P.O. Box 287, Stanford, IL 61774.

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