Sowing the seeds of safety with non-technical skills


Description of impact

Dr Amy Irwin had been examining NTS in aviation and healthcare until turning her focus to the farming industry. After identifying the skills used during critical incidents, studying attitudes towards non-technical skills and talking to farmers at agricultural shows, Dr Irwin identified a need for clearer guidance material and compact practical tools that could support farmers in developing their non-technical skills

Project summary and aims

Farming is a very high-risk occupation with around 30-40 fatalities caused by accidents every year. This fatality rate is 18 times higher than the average across all industries, yet there remains little support for farmers in how to improve safety.

In all industries, the study of human factors and non-technical skills (NTS) is key to understanding how people perform tasks in the workplace and how their behaviour can be influenced by their environment, procedures and systems.

Many different factors come into play when examining how and why human error could occur, but it is particularly important that organisations have a thorough understanding of non-technical skills which are the cognitive (decision making, situation awareness) and social (leadership, teamwork, communication) skills that help us safely and effectively carry out technical tasks and procedures.

Outcomes to Date / Future Developments

Impact statusImpact Completed (Open)
Impact date2017


  • Health, nutrition and wellbeing