Intergenerational transfer of occupational risks on family farms

J Rural Health. 2022 Jun;38(3):527-536. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12602. Epub 2021 Jun 8.


Background: Cultures of safety in farm work settings are under the authority of a responsible owner-operator, who establishes rules, attitudes, and behaviors for farm work practices. This novel analysis provides new evidence to show that risks that can lead to injury and are commonly practiced on Canadian farms are indeed transferred between generations.

Methods: Baseline data were provided by representatives from eligible and consenting farms (n = 589) in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, during the first quarter of 2013. Mailed questionnaires were sent to participating farms and completed by a single respondent. Questionnaires included scaled assessments of hazards and safety practices by farm operators, and young workers on each farm. Descriptive and multiple regression analyses were used to examine relationships between farm owner-operator risks and safety practices and those reported for the young workers.

Findings: Graphical descriptive analyses showed that as farm owner-operator risks increased, so did those reported for children and young workers. Similarly, as farm owner-operator safe work practices increased, young worker hazards decreased, albeit more modestly. The young worker hazard scale increased by 0.20 (95% CI: 0.10-0.30) points, and decreased by 0.08 (95% CI: -0.016 to -0.000) points for each one-point increase in the owner-operator hazard and safe work practices scales, respectively.

Conclusions: Occupational health and safety risks and protections experienced on farms appear to be transferred between generations. This suggests the need to target farm owner-operators, the responsible authority on the farm, as a focus of primary prevention strategies aimed at injury risks to children and young workers.

Keywords: determinants of health; epidemiology; farming; occupational health and safety; young workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational* / prevention & control
  • Agriculture
  • Child
  • Farms
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • Saskatchewan