There is no significant association between farming experience and students' level of risk perception, Dr David Meredith, Department of Agri Business and Spatial Analysis, Teagasc said.

This means that students who are working on a farm on a regular basis don't differ from those students who have no experience on farms, in terms of accidents that occur.

However, family and friends can negatively influence risk perception, Dr Meredith told the BeSafe national farm safety conference in Teagasc Ashtown on Wednesday 23 November.

"Students are being influenced by other people in terms of how they perceive risk. The culture is to get on with the job and get it done. This is a negative influence on risk perception," he said.

Near misses

In relation to risk perception, having a near miss or a close call both increases farmers' risk perception and are the best predictors of a more serious farm accident occurring in the future.

“We can learn a lot from the near misses and the near calls,” he added.


In another large study, advisors were asked if they would be reluctant to discuss farm health and safety with their clients.

The study found that there was a lack of social support from conventional farmers, according to advisors.

"They said that their clients issues centre more around technical farm issues and health and safety was not a priority.

"Some advisors find discussing such topics challenging because it's not in their comfort zone and therefore are reluctant to raise the issue," he said.

Results from the surveys of farmers and students, he said, all highlight the critical role that farmers play in shaping the extent to which people are willing to engage with farm safety.

"We need to develop ways that bring together and maximise the influence of these stakeholders on farm safety cultures in Ireland.

"And farmers have to be at the centre of this," he said.