Background Youth live in the agricultural workplace and are at risk of injury and death on the family farm. Fathers usually oversee the most dangerous youth farm work, namely work around large equipment. Less is known about the safety roles and beliefs of mothers. This study examined differences between mothers and fathers in their work and family roles on the family farm, as well as differences in risk-taking, safety perceptions and knowledge, and perceptions of youth injury risk.
Methods Participants were 248 farm parents (124 married couples) with a youth aged 9–19 yrs. Families lived on farms growing row crops in the Southeastern U.S. Mothers and fathers completed study questionnaires.
Results Mothers were less likely than fathers to operate tractors and large equipment, had lower safety self-efficacy, less confidence and perceptions of control related to keeping their youth safe, less safety training, and less knowledge about farm safety. As compared to fathers, mothers believed that youth should be older before being allowed to work with and operate farm equipment. Unexpectedly, mothers perceived less injury risk to youth than did fathers. Fathers were greater risk-takers than were mothers. For both mothers and fathers, higher risk-taking was associated with less perceived youth injury risk. When asked about decision-making related to youth’s use of farm equipment, mothers often deferred to fathers.
Conclusions Study findings suggest that on family farms growing row crops in the Southeastern U.S., mothers perceive less injury risk to their youth than do fathers. Gendered labour patterns and limited access to agricultural networks and training constrain women’s knowledge about farm safety, especially related to large equipment. These factors may compromise the ability of some women to work jointly with their husbands to keep their youth safe. There is a need for communities to provide farm safety education designed for women, as well as men.
- Farm injuries
- Injury Perception