Social and Individual Influences on Tractor Operating Practices of Young Adult Agricultural Workers

J Adolesc Health. 2018 May;62(5):605-611. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2017.11.300. Epub 2018 Mar 2.


Purpose: Tractor-related incidents are the leading cause of agricultural-related fatalities in the United States. Injuries from rollovers can be prevented by equipping tractors with rollover protective structures (ROPS, an engineering approach) and by using seatbelts (a behavior-based approach). While adult farmers report low seatbelt use and frequent use of tractors without ROPS, it is unknown whether the young adult population has adopted similar tractor driving practices. This study was designed to identify tractor operating practices among young adult agricultural workers and the influence of supervisors, peers, and parents on their safety behaviors.

Methods: An online survey was conducted among college students enrolled in agricultural science classes in four Midwestern colleges and universities. Participants answered questions about their tractor operating practices, the influence of supervisors, peers, parents, and individual risk taking tendencies on their workplace practices. A tractor operation safety score was estimated from participants' responses. Linear regression was used to examine the association of these influences and the tractor operation safety score.

Results: Of the 193 respondents, most (78.8%) reported that they never or rarely wear a seatbelt when operating a tractor with a ROPS. Supervisory influences, such as being negatively evaluated by a supervisor, were found to be more strongly associated with tractor operating behaviors than peer or parent influence.

Conclusions: Young adult agricultural workers frequently reported unsafe tractor operating behaviors. Supervisors were found to have the most influence over reported behaviors of young adult agricultural workers.

Keywords: Agriculture; Behaviors; Health; Occupational; Safety; Young adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Agriculture*
  • Farmers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Occupational Injuries / prevention & control
  • Risk-Taking
  • Safety*
  • Seat Belts / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Young Adult