Lack of Agreement between Safety Priorities and Practices in Agricultural Operators: A Challenge for Injury Prevention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Despite training and prevention programs, injury rates in agriculture remain high, and safety compliance is a challenge. Our aim was to compare farm operators’ reported safety priorities to related behaviors. Surveys were mailed to 1600 agricultural operators; 326 returned complete data. We asked respondents about their safety priorities and practices related to machinery, chemicals, and structures. Kappa statistics, factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and profile analysis were used to understand how practices and priorities were related. Agreement between priorities and practices was low to moderate with high variability. Most discrepancies between the two were found in storing pesticides safely, keeping safety data sheets, using personal protective equipment, grain bin entry, and ladder safety. Machinery questions formed consistent constructs for practices and priorities, where practices predicted priorities more strongly than priorities predicted practices. Younger operators were less frequently exercising safe behaviors compared to older operators. Three safety compliance groups were identified: low compliance (15% of respondents), moderate (61%), and high (24%). Overall, operators reported that safety was a high priority, but their practices suggested otherwise. The promotion of safety culture has been suggested as an underutilized means in agriculture to address the complex issues that lead to unsafe practices, regardless of whether they are tied to limited resources, work organization, working environments, machinery, work habits, or general attention to safety. Effective new ways focusing on operator motivation are needed to bridge the gap between safety priorities and practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number39
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Kappa statistics
  • agricultural workers
  • injury risk factors
  • latent variable models
  • safety climate
  • survey research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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