Investigation of UK Farmer Go/No-Go Decisions in Response to Tractor-Based Risk Scenarios

Amy Irwin, Jill Poots

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: Tractors are a source of injury and fatality in agriculture. Despite this farmers continue to engage in risk-taking behaviors, including operating tractors without appropriate equipment. In order to change behaviors and attitudes toward safety, it is important to understand how farmers approach different types of risk relevant to tractor use. The current study used a qualitative approach to investigate farmer perception of four types of tractor-based risk related to self, equipment, lack of safety features, and environment.

Method: A sample of 148 farmers from the United Kingdom and Ireland was recruited from farming forums to take part in an online scenario-based qualitative study. Participants were presented with 12 tractor-based scenarios, three from each category of risk, and asked to indicate if they would proceed to use the tractor (go) or not (no-go), then report their reasoning. Thematic analysis was used to identify data patterns.

Results: Farmers appeared to assess the consequences of risk in broader terms than the risk of injury to themselves; they also evaluated risk in terms of potential costs (e.g., repair bill) and losses (e.g., delay). Analysis indicated that financial risk was considered with more caution than personal risk in many cases. Farmers also considered usability, such as the functionality of tractor seat belts, indicating the importance of ensuring all safety equipment is fit for purpose.

Conclusion: The management of agricultural risk should consider farmer priorities (such as financial costs) in order to develop effective messaging that focuses on those priorities, with the aim of reducing risk-taking behaviors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-165
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Agromedicine
Issue number2
Early online date12 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • decision-making
  • risk perception
  • safety
  • scenarios


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