Pre-professional perceptions of safety and quality concerns in agricultural work environments

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Gretchen A. Mosher
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Pre-professionals in the field of agriculture will play a vital role in the application and implementation of quality and safety policies in agricultural work environments. Yet, no comprehensive study has been completed to understand these pre-professionals' perceptions of quality and safety and how these two factors interact in the agricultural workplace. This study built on the work of Mosher et al. (2012), which measured the interactions between employees' perceptions of safety and quality in an agricultural work environment. To understand how pre-professionals perceive the link between quality and safety, undergraduate students enrolled in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Iowa State University were surveyed. Data were collected using a survey instrument adapted from a previous instrument developed by Schwab and Freeman (2002). Analysis of 1017 responses showed that students perceived a high impact of quality practices on the decrease of safety hazards and incidents. Students' perceptions of safety and quality as applied to agricultural work environments varied by gender, with female students perceiving the interaction at a higher level than male students. No significant difference in perceptions was observed based on classification, age group, major, work experience and environment of childhood of the students. This study demonstrates that despite limited academic training in safety and quality, pre-professionals perceive implementation of quality as very important in reducing safety hazards and incidents. In addition, this study suggests that current academic training in safety and quality must be modified to adequately prepare pre-professionals for careers in the field of agriculture.

Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2014