Perceptions of Agricultural College Students on the Relationship between Quality and Safety in Agricultural Work Environments
Agriculture is a high-hazard industry that employs a large number of young workers below the age of 25. Recent studies have documented a strong positive correlation between quality management in agriculture and occupational safety as perceived by agricultural workers. Younger workers have been found to be at higher risk for occupational injuries and fatalities in agriculture. Furthermore, college students in agriculture have minimal exposure to safety and quality management principles in their coursework and thus may not be aware that the two concepts are associated. Little research has studied how young workers perceive the relationship between safety and quality and how these perceptions vary based on demographic characteristics. This study builds on prior research that measured the interactions between employee perceptions of safety and quality in an agricultural work environment. Data were collected using a survey instrument adapted from a previously validated instrument. Analysis of 1017 responses showed that students perceived a high impact of quality practices on the reduction of safety hazards and safety incidents. Studentsâ€™ perceptions of quality and safety in agricultural work environments varied by gender, with female students perceiving the relationship between the two at a higher level than males. No significant difference in perceptions was observed based on studentsâ€™ academic classification, age group, field of study, or childhood environment. This study demonstrates that despite limited academic training in safety and quality, pre-professionals perceive the implementation of quality management as a very important factor in mitigating safety hazards and safety incidents. In addition, this study suggests that current academic training in these disciplines must be modified, since no differences in studentsâ€™ perceptions were observed based on academic classification or field of study.
This article is from Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health 21 (2015): 47–64, doi:10.13031/jash.21.10804. Posted with permission.