New approach to farm safety
Researcher Anna Blackman. Photo by JCU Media
JCU researchers believe the heavy toll accidents take on Australian farmers could be reduced by an innovative approach to learning.
Dr Anna Blackman from JCU’s College of Business, Law & Governance said business coaching techniques could cut the death and injury rate of farmers.
Fifty-four people died on Australian farms last year, with quad bikes the biggest killers.
Accidents involving the vehicles killed 12 people including three children, with the deaths and injuries on farms estimated to cost Australia a minimum of half a billion dollars a year.
Dr Blackman said coaching was different from mentoring and better than a one-day course.
“Mentoring is focused on the technical side of things and course material often ends up in a desk drawer and is never looked at again,” she said.
Dr Blackman said coaching is ongoing and happens over a number of months, and seeks to get the person being coached to think about how they could drive change themselves.
“We’re after behavioural change. We want people to be more aware of the big picture and not just fixated on day-to-day tasks,” she said.
Dr Blackman said the coaching model had repeatedly proven successful in enhancing productivity, efficiency and communication in businesses it was applied to, and it was likely it could be used to improve farm safety too.
Dr Blackman said it was important to get the right fit for farmers, by selecting properly trained coaches who also have an understanding of the farming sector. “If you can get that, you can have sustained change and I think you will see injury rates dropping,” she said.
The team has studied the approach with a small trial program held in Bowen, and is pursuing grants to fund more research.