Promoting Farmer occupational safety and health (OSH) services through Extension
¹Teagasc-Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Head Office, Oak Park, R93 XE12 Carlow, Ireland
²School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin 4, D04 V1W8, Ireland
Strategies for improving OSH in European agriculture are urgently required given the high level of reported injuries and ill health in the sector. The agriculture sector in Europe is enormous in scale and diverse in production systems. A dispersed labour force is deployed in the sector, predominantly using family labour, which is self-employed. Accordingly, a large proportion of the agricultural workforce is outside the scope of EU directives on occupational safety and health (OSH).The aim of this paper is to examine the role and engagement of the discipline of agricultural extension in promoting OSH in agriculture and consider methodologies that this discipline can use most effectively to gain OSH adoption. The paper compares regulatory and extension approaches to consider their respective roles in promoting OSH in agriculture. EU developments related to extension and OSH are then outlined. Regarding extension engagement, findings of a survey among extension and OSH professionals throughout Europe found that OSH is considered an important topic and worthwhile for inclusion in extension but it indicates that currently the level of extension programming is limited. Irish data on OSH extension methodologies indicates that advisors consider that a range of extension approaches are available to motivate farmers on OSH adoption with TV victim testimonials, on-farm social learning discussion groups and on-farm demonstrations having the highest preferences. Data presented indicates that Irish farmers expressed good satisfaction ratings with OSH extension relevance to their farms. Overall, the study advocates giving more consideration of the role of extension in promoting agricultural OSH.