Term of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health in Public Health Leadership (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

Committee Chair

Gulzar Shah

Committee Member 1

Andrew Hansen

Committee Member 2

Haresh Rochani

Abstract

This study sets out to explore and describe the perceptions of central Georgia African American small family farmers’ concerning production agriculture safety and how their perceptions may influence farm safety practices. The majority of existing data, studies, and injury prevention programs on production agriculture safety have been conducted on white farmers and their families or the migrant farm community (Earle-Richardson & Jennings, 2001). Maciuba, Westneat, & Reed (2013) note there are few studies which focus on the occupational health needs of African American farmers. There are a number of quantitative studies that help frame the dangers of the farm environment and provide descriptive data as to the variables associated with farm injuries. However, because small family farms have their own identity informed by ethnicity, socioeconomic status, level of education, and family traditions which influences work practices, it is of importance to study this high risk fatal and nonfatal injury vocation from an emic perspective (McCoy, Carruth, & Reed, 2002). The overall objective of this study is to provide contemporary insight into the production agriculture safety perceptions of central Georgia African American small family farmers. This study will also inform rural public health professionals, agricultural professionals and policy makers of this group’s production agriculture safety needs and interests in central Georgia. Focus groups and standardized open-ended interviews were the qualitative methods used to answer study questions. Findings from this study suggest that African American small family farmers in central Georgia perceive themselves to be at risk of sustaining farm related injuries. They also perceive farm injuries as a serious consequence. Effective farm safety strategies in their view would greatly reduce the risk of farm injuries. There was also a belief that potential cost barriers related to production agriculture safety should not restrict farm safety practices. Farmers for this study tied farm safety to pride of ownership and farm production. There perceptions of the risk of farm injury resonated with their belief that taking appropriate safety actions would lead to a safer farm environment for the farm family. Although participants acknowledged their vulnerability to farm related injuries, they did not feel their risk of injury was any greater than other occupational settings. Findings seem to suggest the likelihood of participants supporting farm safety practices is possible with the assistance of health promotion strategies by rural public health professionals and agriculture extension agencies.

INDEX WORDS: African American Farmers, Farm Injuries, Farmer Stress Factors, Farm Risk, Farm Hazards, Agricultural Workforce, Older Farmers, Farming Environment, Farmer Injuries, Prevention Strategies, Health Belief Model

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