Tractor overturns cause many injuries and death from agricultural activities. Statistics show that, from 1992 to 2005, more than 1,400 workers died from tractor overturns (Crosby et al. 303). Similarly, in 1997, there were more than 573 injuries from tractor overturns. Myers et al. (98) say the social costs of such injuries reach $1.5 billion annually. Based on the above statistics, tractor overturns have a huge medical and social cost to the affected persons. Therefore, its occurrence is a public health concern for many countries. This paper explores the key attributes of effective health intervention methods for preventing such injuries and deaths.
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Key Attributes of Effective Intervention Methods
Anchor in Law
If public health officials lobby governments to anchor safety measures in law, farmers will comply with the recommended safety laws when using tractors on farms. This step would be effective in making sure that the tractor-manufacturing companies fit a roll bar in their machines. Myers et al. (98) say this intervention is 98% effective in reducing deaths and injuries from tractor overturns. Federal regulations in the US partly appreciate this fact because they anchor such safety measures in law. For example, in 1976, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required all employers who use tractors on large farms to fit their tractors with a roll bar. However, these laws are inapplicable to all farms in the US. For example, the government exempts family-owned farms from this law (Crosby et al. 303). Consequently, incidences of death and injury from tractor overturns remain high. Strengthening enforcement standards would increase the effectiveness of mechanical interventions for preventing death and injury to farmers. Nonetheless, Crosby et al. (304) say economic and behavioral reasons often undermine the efficacy of such interventions because some farmers believe they know how to control their tractors. Therefore, they do not want to change their behaviors. Other farmers (mostly those, who use old tractors) are unable to fit the roll bars because they do not have the financial resources to do so. These dynamics emphasize the need to understand farmers as a special population for embracing behavioral health interventions.
Understanding the Audience
The effectiveness of intervention methods for preventing deaths and injuries from tractor overturns stems from understanding farmers as a special target audience of health interventions. Particularly, this understanding is important in using behavioral change interventions to prevent incidences of tractor overturns. Crosby et al. (304) say using behavioral interventions to change “careless” farmer behaviors (when using tractors) is futile if health workers do not understand the unique characteristics of farmers as a target audience. For example, farmers have independent lifestyles. Moreover, in America and many parts of the world, farmers live in isolated communities. Therefore, Crosby et al. (304) suggest that public health workers need to create community partnerships with “farming groups” and use behavioral theories to guide the planning and design phases of rural public health programs (Crosby et al. 304). Particularly, the researchers emphasize the importance of using motivational theories to make farmers take better care of themselves when using tractors (Crosby et al. 304). For example, they say using pictures of overturned tractors to change people’s careless behaviors when using tractors may play a significant role in reducing deaths and injuries from tractor overturns.
Tractor overturns cause significant injuries and death to workers. This paper shows that they account for the highest number of deaths in agriculture-related accidents. Although many experts have formulated interventions to minimize tractor overturns, their efficacy mainly depends on understanding the key attributes of existing intervention methods. This paper shows that deepening the legal foundations for mechanical interventions and understanding the unique characteristics of farmers are key attributes for introducing effective intervention methods. Particularly, these attributes are crucial in introducing behavioral changes to prevent death and injuries from tractor overturns.
Crosby, Richard, Wendel Monica, Vanderpool Robin and Casey Baretta. Rural Populations and Health: Determinants, Disparities, and Solutions. London, UK: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.
Myers, Melvin, Cole Henry and Westneat Susan. “Projected Incidence and Cost of Tractor Overturn-Related Injuries in the United States.” J Agric Saf Health 14.1 (2008): 93-103. Print.