3 million workers die annually from work related


3 million, workers die annually from work related incidents, (60,000 weekly, 12,000 daily), 500 million people (2 million daily) are seriously injured or ill, the financial burden on society is estimated to be 3 trillion dollars ($60 million, $12 million daily) (The International Labour Organisation (ILO) 2019). These figures are most likely underestimated as most of the costs of work related injuries and illness are hidden from statistical view. In the Irish farming sector, the likelihood of being killed at work is 14 times greater than the mainstream working sector in Ireland (see Figure 1).

The farming sector plays a critical role in the Irish economy and accounts for 10% of employment in Ireland (Teagasc, 2017). However, farming is recognised as a high risk occupation in Ireland and internationally (McNamara & Reidy, 1997). In Ireland farming culture and tradition dates back for millennia. As culture and mindfulness have a significant impact on farm workers' behaviour, the influence these factors have on the health and safety of Irish farmers will be discussed.

This report will critically examine the current literature surrounding the role that culture, safety culture and mindfulness plays in health and safety in the Irish farming workplace.

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Causes of higher fatality rates in Irish farming and potential solutions will be discussed and finally, a proposal for a new research methodology will be presented.

Background Information

Ireland is a rural country with farming traditionally a major feature of Irish life, culture and economy. There are 137,500 family farms in Ireland the average size is 32.4 hectares (National Farm Survey (NFS) 2016). Irish agriculture uses mostly grass and in 2018, 104,600 people of average age 56 were employed in the Irish farming sector.

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They are mainly part-time self-employed farm owner-occupiers who live on the family farm; half have off-farm employment (HSA, 2019). In 2016, the agri-food sector in Ireland generated 7% of gross value added (ˆ13.9 billion), 9.8% of Ireland's merchandise exports and provided 8.5% of national employment. Therefore, the Agri-Food Sector makes a significant contribution to the national economy. Farming in Ireland is dependent on exports, with almost 700 firms' employing 167,500 people, exporting agri-produce to more than 160 countries. These exports produce a far bigger return than equivalent activity in other sectors as agri-food companies' source 74% of raw materials and services from Irish suppliers compared to 43% for all manufacturing companies. In 2016, the net exports of beef accounted to 85% of production, making Ireland the largest beef net exporter in the EU and fifth largest worldwide (Teagasc 2017).

In 2017, 861 farms participated in the Teagasc NFS and farm incomes at ˆ31,412 were up 32% from ˆ24,000 in 2016. As there are some very large farms with very large incomes, the majority of farmers would have incomes that are much lower than these figures. The Teagasc NFS only includes farms with a standard output of more than ˆ8,000; this automatically excludes the smallest farms. In 2015 a special survey of small farms with a standard output of less than ˆ8,000, called, 'Teagasc National Farm Survey: The Sustainability of Small Farming in Ireland' was conducted. The survey found that 37% of all Irish farms were in this 'small farm' category and the 2015 average family farm income of a small farm was ˆ2,917, with 88% of small farms getting an off-farm income and 50% classed as extremely economically vulnerable.

Definition of Culture

Literature gives numerous definitions of culture all with similar beliefs. John McNamara gives a clear and concise definition

"Culture consists of the typical features of a certain group of people which can be featured elements such as language or social norms, furthermore, the social dimension of culture is an important element as it considers how people relate and identify with each other" (McNamara, 1995).

Tylor goes further stating that:

"culture is a quality possessed by people in all social groups and that it can be defined as a complicated phenomenon which consists of knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and other abilities and rituals acquired by people in society" (Spencer-Oatey 2012).

Spencer-Oatey's definition is:

"Culture is a fuzzy set of attitudes, beliefs, behavioural conventions, and basic assumptions and values that are shared by a group of people, and that influence each member's behaviour and each member's interpretations of the "meaning" of other people's behaviour", (Guldenmund, 2010).

Description of Culture

Spencer-Oatey (2012) outlined the key components of culture and observed the multiple layers and depth existing in a culture. When analysing culture, it can be difficult to comprehend the logic of "why" a group of people behave as they do. Therefore, observing the values and components governing behaviour alongside the reasons for their behaviour helps us understand why a particular behavioural outcome occurs. When studying these driving values, the unconscious assumptions that dictate perceptions, thoughts and feelings must be considered. Spencer-Oatey (2012) posited that these assumptions are cultured reactions that were originally values leading to behaviours that in turn led to basic assumptions of a situation. Moreover, Spencer-Oatey (2012) suggested that when this assumption fades out of awareness it will correspondingly be taken for granted, becoming indisputable and more powerful than accepted values. Bringing these unconscious assumptions back into conscious awareness could involve mindfulness. Klockner said mindfulness is progressively recognised as being valuable and has a logical place in the occupational science space (Elliot 2011)

Spencer-Oatey (2012) further described that while some aspects of culture are physically visible, often cultural meanings are implicit and invisible and that the meaning lies entirely in how these practices are interpreted by those within a particular community or society. Hand gestures, for example, can be interpreted in many ways across different cultures. As culture is learned and acquired in a social environment, it falls between both universal human nature and unique individual personality which is refined by culture. John B Keane in his play 'The Field' aptly described the love and dedication of an Irish farmer for the land, stating, "It is my field, it is my child, I nursed it, I nourished it." (John B. Keane, 1965). This descriptive quote indicates the influence culture has on Irish farmers.

Spencer-Oatey (2012), says that most people belong to many groups and have several layers of mental programming in their psyche corresponding to the different cultures in which they live. Culture is as much an individual as a social construct and failure to acknowledge individual differences may lead to stereotyping (Matsumoto 1996). Spencer-Oatey, (2012) observed that culture is a descriptive concept that relates to the whole of a society, often, people talk of 'high' and 'low', civilised and coarse cultures. Culture is not value-laden, no culture is more civilised or advanced than another; they are similar or different to each other.

With this view of culture, there are many misconceptions of culture, for example; Culture is; homogenous, a thing, custom, timeless, and uniformly distributed among members of a group, an individual possesses but a single culture. A person owns and controls several cultures and culture always comes in the plural with lots of variation within it. Together, the related misconceptions about culture are strengthened and limit the efficacy of the culture principle as a diagnostic tool for understanding social action, in this case farmer behaviour (Avruch 1998: 14-16). Using a holistic view of culture will further enhance the efficacy of the extension agents' efforts to help Irish farmers integrate the health and safety programme in their work practices.

2 Definition of Safety Culture

Cooper (2000) said "The Confederation of British Industry (CBI, 1991) defined safety culture as: ``the ideas and beliefs that all members of the organisation share about risk, accidents and ill health''.

The Advisory Committee for Safety in Nuclear Installations, later adopted by the UK Health and Safety Commission (HSC, 1993), defined safety culture as:

"The product of individual and group values, attitudes, competencies, and patterns of behaviour that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organisation's health & safety programmes." (Cooper 2000).

Organisations with a positive safety culture are characterised by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety, and by confidence in the efficacy of their preventative measures. Because farmers mostly work alone the 'safety culture' may not get much attention as a factor in the health and safety performance of individual farmers (HSA 2017).

Analysing Irish Farming Safety Culture

The Irish workplace fatality statistics shows the likelihood of getting killed working on an Irish farm is over 14 times greater than working in the mainstream employment sectors in Ireland (see figure 1).

Figure 1 Annual Worker Fatality Rates per 100,000

Since 2010, the annual rate of fatalities for every 100,000 people working in Irish workplaces (except farming) is 1.5 workers died. In the farming sector for every 100,000 people working the rate is 21.5 workers died (HSA 2018) These statistics point to a serious health and safety problem in the Irish farming sector. In the HSA's Summary of Workplace Injury, Illness and Fatality Statistics 2014-2015, they found that most work fatalities occurred in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors. There were 31 and 24 agricultural fatalities in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Between 2010 and 2013, the fatality rates for workers was 26.4 per 100,000 workers (HSA 2016) (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 Worker Fatalities per 100,000 Workers 2009-2015

McNamara and Reidy (1997) pointed out that both at home and internationally, farming is recognised as a high risk occupation. McNamara (1995) said the culture of Irish farmers' includes risk-taking and regulation will not solve the problem. McNamara (1995) said McCarthy (1998) considered that culture can be viewed as represented in the thinking, enthusiasms, self-controls and egos of people in a group. Cooper (2000) referencing Glendon and Staunton (2000) they state that safety culture refers to underlying beliefs and convictions, including OHS. This is further endorsed by John McNamara (1995) who said safety programmes need a strong cultural dimension. (Knowles, 2002; Seiz and Downey, 2001; McNamara and Reidy, 1997; Fallon and Michail, 1988) have all indicated that farmers generally are broadly in favour of farm OHS. Kelly (2004) found that farmers ranked 'health' third in order of importance and gave it a ranking near 'maximising profit' and 'improving quality of life'. While farmers rank health high in order of importance, it does not transfer into actual adoption of good health and safety practices on the farm.

The cause of the massive discrepancy between the fatality rate in farming and mainstream work is multi-faceted and it is considered culture plays a major role in it. An example of traditional Irish farming culture is illustrated by the unique historic 'Meitheal' system, where a group of neighbouring farmers would assemble to help each other perform the most demanding and busy tasks on each other's farm, i.e., the joint efforts of neighbours collecting the harvest and operating the thrasher. This is a disintegrating tradition of togetherness among farmers.

The mechanisation of farming and the growth in off farm employment in Ireland also brought a decline of available labour on the farm and led to most farmers working alone, a well-recognised hazard. McNamara and Reidy (1997) claimed that safety on farms is unique compared to other work sectors as it is usually lone work, seasonal and uses a range of different machinery. Farming poses numerous risks in many locations incorporating the family home which may contain three or four generations of all ages from 1 to 100 years whom live, work, rest and play on the farm. The change in the economics of farming and rural living has diminished the ability of most small farms to provide a modern 'living'. Farmers now have to perform farming tasks outside of the off farm job time which is usually very early or very late and dark while the farmer may be fatigued. These issues combined, contribute to the farmer taking short cuts to get work done in the shortest time, creating a hazardous work situation.

McNamara (1995) says the review shows the deficiency in farmer behaviour relates to not putting OHS measures into practice. Knowles, (2002) Finnegan and Phelan, (2003) indicated considerable non-implementation of OHS controls by farmers. McNamara and Reidy's (1997) study of health and safety on Irish farms is a follow up to their 1991 study. Since the 1991 survey farmers have, in theory, received farm safety messages in a positive light and even though farmers believe a higher standard of safety is achievable, in practice they are unresponsive to these messages. Only 25 per cent said they had incorporated safety into farming routines over the last five years.

While the McNamara and Reidy (1997) survey shows a slight improvement in safety, more progress is needed as it also highlighted a 'cultural tendency' of farmers to play down the effects of illness/disability from farm accidents. Farm work, dealing with livestock and

Updated: May 19, 2021
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3 million workers die annually from work related. (2019, Nov 24). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/introduction3-million-workers-die-annually-from-work-related-example-essay

3 million workers die annually from work related essay
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