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Farmers risk safety due to financial pressure

Workers in agriculture suffer two to three fatal accidents every month

Farmers risk safety due to financial pressure

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Farmers are risking personal safety due to financial pressures according to new research.

The study, carried out by University of Aberdeen, found that farmers were willing to take on risk to avoid financial losses in particular, with an average of three fatal farm-worker accidents recorded each month.

Industrial psychologist Dr Amy Irwin said that the failure lower these fatalities led her to investigate the underlying factors.

“Fatal injuries in agriculture are steady at a rate of around 2 or 3 per month, a figure that hasn’t dropped even with the changes in health and safety culture over the last 25 years.

“So, farmers have a reputation for being risk takers - there is an assumption that they engage in dangerous behaviours and people aren’t sure why. I wanted to see whether one of the factors that might influence their behaviour is the characteristics of the risk itself.”

She recruited 48 farmers from across the UK to her study, who were presented with different types of risky scenario and asked to indicate whether they would work on despite the risk. Examples included scenarios involving faulty machinery, human factors – such as feeling tired and environmental hazards such as ditch erosion.

“These results are interesting as they indicate that farmers are not assessing each risk purely from a safety perspective – they are also assessing it in terms of financial gains or losses, both machinery repair and issues linked to work pressure”.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: "Unfortunately for those who work in the industry farming is a dangerous occupation. Whether it is working with unpredictable livestock or high-powered machinery, farmers need to be constantly on the alert to different dangers.

"So many accidents that happen on farms occur because a farmer is rushing, not wanting to waste money, or is just not putting their safety and wellbeing as a priority.”

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