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Personal Protective Equipment Use and Safety Behaviors Among Farm Adolescents: Gender Differences and Predictors of Work Practices

Authors

  • Deborah B. Reed RN, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. College of Nursing, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.
    2. College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.
    3. Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.
      For further information, contact: Deborah B. Reed, RN, PhD, College of Nursing, 315 Health Sciences Learning Center, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536-0232; e-mail dbreed01@uky.edu.
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  • Steven R. Browning PhD,

    1. College of Nursing, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.
    2. College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.
    3. Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.
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  • Susan C. Westneat MA,

    1. College of Nursing, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.
    2. Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.
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  • Pamela S. Kidd PhD

    1. Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.
    2. Pamela S. Kidd is deceased.
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  • This work was funded by CDC/NIOSH (RO1CCR414307). The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and may not be reflective of CDC/NIOSH. UK IRB # 03-0230-P2B. We acknowledge the competent editorial assistance of Mr. Joe Petrik and Ms. Erin Lee in preparing this article. We also acknowledge the support from Dr. Robert McKnight and Dr. Henry Cole of the Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention at the University of Kentucky and the teachers and students who participated in the study.

For further information, contact: Deborah B. Reed, RN, PhD, College of Nursing, 315 Health Sciences Learning Center, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536-0232; e-mail dbreed01@uky.edu.

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Context: Children on farms perform work that places them at risk for acute and chronic negative health outcomes. Despite strategies for preventing and reducing the risk of disease and injury, children’s use of personal protective equipment and safely equipped farm machinery has generally remained unreported. Purpose: This paper reports the use of personal protective equipment, self-protective work behaviors, and selected risk exposures of children aged 14-19, who perform farm work. Methods: Survey results of adolescent high school students (n = 593) enrolled in agriculture class in Kentucky, Iowa, and Mississippi. Students were part of the sample that participated in the Agricultural Disability Awareness and Risk Education Project. Findings: Boys were at a significantly higher risk of exposure compared to girls, and boys engaged more frequently in risky behavior. Hearing and respiratory protection was used minimally and sporadically. Physical symptoms influenced use of hearing and respirator use, as did physician recommendation to use such protection. Of students who operated farm tractors, only half most frequently operated tractors with safety bars and seat belts. Sixty percent of the students reported using equipment with damaged or missing safety shields. Conclusions: In addition to the usual risks of farm work, adolescents may be at even greater risk by not using personal protective equipment or not having access to machinery that is properly equipped for maximum protection. Health care providers should incorporate advice to adolescents and their parents on risk reduction, particularly on the use of personal protective equipment.

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