Training to help cut farm deaths

A safety training course for farmers aims to help cut the grim accident and death toll in an industry which holds the unenviable record of a fatality rate 18 times higher than the national industry average.

The course drawn together by researchers at Aberdeen University has been tailored for the sector and is the first to emphasise the importance of non-technical skills for farmers using techniques borrowed from the aviation industry.

Dr Amy Irwin and the research team have studied the accident rate in farming for more than six years and used their knowledge ofother industries to identify the key skills for farmers and developed a course with training organisation KURA Human Factors.

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Irwin said that cognitive thinking skills such as decision-making and situation awareness, and social interaction skills such as teamwork and communication, in conjunction with technical know-how, were key to ensuring safe and effective performance at work.

“An evidence based non-technical skills course for agricultural workers is long overdue,” added Niven Phoenix from KURA. “The advent of technology in farming has been astounding, with systems and hardware that has advanced out of sync with the training required to manage the increased risk presented.

“We have already seen parallels with our work in the construction industry. It is beset by similar problems that are now being addressed with effective understanding of human fallibility and how we canprotect livelihood, life and limb.”

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