In 2002 a New Zealand-wide farm-safety training programme (FarmSafe Awareness Workshop) was implemented by occupational safety, farming, and education agencies to reduce the high injury burden experienced by the pastoral farming sector. Its objectives were to improve farmers’ attitudes, perceptions, and personal safety practices; and to encourage action that would make farms safer workplaces.
To conduct a process and impact programme evaluation of the FarmSafe Awareness Workshop programme in 2003/2004.
Describe the development and implementation of the Workshop
Evaluate its performance against best-practice standards for community-based and farm-safety injury prevention interventions
Evaluate which Workshop objectives had been achieved.
A mixed methods conceptual framework was developed to include all aspects of the programme evaluation. Benchmarks for community-based interventions and successful farm safety interventions were established from the literature. Process evaluation methods included key informant interviews with stakeholder agencies, workshop tutors and participants. Evaluation of the impact of the workshop was by quasi-experimental design. The intervention group was selected from those who had indicated their intent to attend a Workshop. The comparison group was randomly selected from a national farm database. Both groups completed baseline and follow-up questionnaires. All workshop participants were invited to complete an evaluation form, reporting whether the workshop was useful or had resulted in changes in their motivation.
The FarmSafe Awareness Workshop programme strengths were its governance, delivery structure, intersector collaboration, and focus on community participation. The training intervention met several of the criteria for effective safety education. For example, it raised awareness of the injury burden and risks farmers were exposed to, and participants’ own experiences were shared; furthermore the Workshop was delivered in local communities by locally credible tutors. A weakness was that farm safety audits were not performed.
Almost 9,000 (86%) pastoral farmers who had attended the FarmSafe Awareness Workshop in 2003/2004 completed the workshop evaluation form. Almost all indicated that the workshop was useful and motivated them to make changes. All who attended the workshop gained credits on the NZ Qualifications framework, indicating a good level of safety knowledge was attained.
For the intervention study, 111 participants in the Intervention Group and 409 participants in Comparison Group 1 completed both questionnaires. Comparison Group 2 was established post hoc from those participants who had originally been in the Intervention Group but who did not attend the Workshop: 78 completed both questionnaires. Participation in a workshop resulted in a small improvement in the safety attitude scores; however, there was little difference between the intervention and comparison groups in personal safety practice or improving the workplace environment.
Most safety interventions are focused in particular workplaces. This programme evaluation looked at the pastoral farming sector as a whole. It demonstrates what many other studies have found: safety education and training are necessary, but alone these are not sufficient to improve personal safety practices or make the working environment safer. A comprehensive rethink to the approach taken in farm safety injury prevention is warranted.||