Cognitive-Behavioral Approaches to Farm Community Safety Education: A Conceptual Analysis

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Cole, Henrey


For many years, farm health and safety education efforts have focused on the presentation of safety rules and guidelines. This method of instruction tends to ignore the contingencies that influence the actual behavior of farmers. Consequently, while most farmers understand the safety instruction messages they receive, they frequently continue to engage in risky behaviors. They do so even when they are aware of the injury consequences that can result from engaging in risky behaviors during farm work. Consequently, educational programs for the delivery of farm health and safety knowledge have been judged to be of questionable effectiveness. Yet, current political, social, and economic realities suggest that safety and health education will remain a favored methodology for the foreseeable future. These observations suggest that farm safety education efforts may need to be reconceptualized. This article examines the learning of safe and unsafe work practices from three historical learning theory perspectives: behaviorism, constructivism, and socioculturalism. The conceptual analysis is illustrated through case study examples. The analysis may provide insights into why transmission of knowledge by itself is not effective for replacing risky behaviors with safe work practices. It may also assist the design of farm health and safety education programs that impart knowledge, as well as change attitudes and behavior that support safe work practices.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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