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Women also need farm safety training

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Further evidence of high injury rates among women working on farms comes from a survey of farmers and their spouses in Colorado. After controlling for the amount of time spent on different activities around the farm, women and men were found to be equally at risk while handling animals or farm materials. Men were at higher risk of injury during farm maintenance, crop production and transportation, but women were at much higher risk than men during other farm work.

The farms were randomly selected from eight counties in Colorado, and the farm operators and their spouses interviewed between 1993 and 1997. They were asked about injuries in the previous 12 months that required medical treatment, not just first aid, and that prevented them from working. The study looked at the hours exposed to the activity and also the actual tasks performed.

A total of 301 women and 459 men participated. Overall high injury rates were found in men involved in farm maintenance and women involved in “other” farm work; further work is needed to identify within this category those tasks women are doing that increase their risk of injury.

Although the response rate was relatively low and the injuries were self reported, the study nevertheless shows that injury prevention programmes need to address jobs carried out by both men and women on farms.