Relationship of Attitudes Toward Farm Safety Concepts and Farm Accident Involvement

  • Murphy, Dennis J.


Many safety educators firmly believe that good safety attitudes are a must if people are to avoid accidents in the workplace and elsewhere. This idea has evolved mainly from the industrial safety movement and has been adopted in most fields of safety such as traffic, aviation, agriculture, and the like. However, this fundamental adage has never been tested in some of these fields, particularly agriculture.

There are many differences between industrial safety and agricultural safety. Inclement weather, time, poor crop and livestock prices, and societies expectation of the farmer to be a rugged, tough, independent individual are just a few of the subtle pressures exerted on farmers that are not felt by many other workers. Many of these pressures work directly against the farmer's safety and are suspected to be related to a number of farm accidents.

A random sample of 1500 Pennsylvania farmers were asked their attitudes toward 15 nationally recognized farm safety concepts. Farm Safety Concepts were defined as nationally recognized safe operating or working procedures, rules or practices. The Semantic Differential Attitude Test was used to collect attitude data. The Semantic Differential is a bi-polar adjective scale which allows the respondent to indicate not only his preference but also the intensity of that preference. Other pertinent data about the subjects were obtained through questions at the beginning of the questionnaire.

Four hundred ninety-three respondents indicated they had about the same attitudes towards farm safety concepts regardless of their accident involvement. In other words, those farmers who were involved in farm accidents expoused just as good an attitude toward safety as those farmers who had no accidents. In addition, farmers' expressed attitudes did not differ significantly regarding farm safety when analyzed by size of operation, type of operation, hours spent working on the farm, or level of education. The results of this study suggest that the apparent high priority farm safety educators give to safety attitude promotion should be re-examined. In addition, educators should deal with the subtle pressures exerted on a farmer that often increase his chance of an accident. Farm safety education programs should help farmers recognize these pressures to deal with them. Too, poor safety attitudes should not be used to explain away farm accidents caused by unsafe acts of the farmer.


SOURCE: The Pennsylvania State University; 1979. 109.


This document was extracted from the CDC-NIOSH Epidemiology of Farm Related Injuries: Bibliography With Abstracts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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