J Agromedicine. 2018;23(1):92-104. doi: 10.1080/1059924X.2017.1382409.
OBJECTIVE: To explore health and safety issues in organic farming, particularly among small farmers in central New Mexico.
METHODS: Participants included 10 certified organic producers and 20 workers. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and observations.
RESULTS: The sample consisted of a young, educated, low experienced population that may differ from conventional farmers. Both producers and workers seemed to be aware of the health risks involved with small-scale farming. Producers presented mixed attitudes toward health and safety, while the attitudes of workers were more systematically negative. Perception of risk was generally lower among workers compared to producers. Although health and safety training was not specifically mentioned, most participants seemed to understand the relevance of the work environment for health and safety. Regarding ergonomics, the physical demands of working for long hours and the necessity to perform a multitude of tasks that contribute to physical stress were issues of concern.
CONCLUSIONS: This is one of the few studies in the United States exploring health and safety among organic farmers. Although participants reported very few actual incidents, the study identified relevant intrapersonal and behavioral factors that may increase or reduce the risk for disease and injury. Results also indicate the need for research that focuses on the psychosocial and contextual factors that may contribute to injury and disease among organic farmers.