Personal protective equipment use and safety behaviors among farm adolescents: Gender differences and predictors of work practices

Deborah B. Reed, Steven R. Browning, Susan C. Westneat, Pamela S. Kidd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-320
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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