Injury and death rates of youth on farms in the United States are particularly high. Operating a tractor on the farm is one of the most basic, yet extremely risky practices. Machinery (tractors) is the leading cause of fatal farm-related injuries to youth less than 20 years of age. Purpose of the current study was to explore factors that increase the risk of youth practicing unsafe tractor-related behaviours on the farm. This paper presents preliminary data from a youth farm injury prevention research study funded by National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The study was conducted in a rural state in Southern United States. Eighty five farm families participated. Youth ages ranged from 10 through 19 years. The influence of fathers risk-taking orientation on youth risk-taking and youth unsafe tractor-related behaviours on farms was explored. The risk-taking orientation for fathers and youth was assessed using the dangerous risk-taking orientation scale. Unsafe youth tractor behaviours included operating a ROPS tractor without a seatbelt, dismounting a tractor with tractor running, giving someone a ride on a tractor meant for one person, starting a tractor while not on operators seat. Regression analysis revealed that fathers' risk-taking orientation positively predicted youth risk-taking on farms. Further, fathers risk-taking orientation also positively predicted youth self-reported unsafe behaviours related to tractors on farms. Importance of parental modelling of safe behaviours on farms to prevent youth injuries will be discussed. Implications of findings for broader youth injury prevention research will also be discussed.
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