Investigation of UK Farmer Risk Perception and Non-Technical Skills

Ilinca-Ruxandra Tone, Amy Irwin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPublished conference contribution


Livestock operations pose a high risk of injury and fatality in agriculture, especially for lone workers. In other high-risk industries, non-technical skills (NTS) are recognised as important for safe and effective task performance. However, dedicated research ought to be conducted to investigate how these findings apply to farmers, who are suggested to be highly risk tolerant. The current study used the vignette method to investigate farmer risk perception and risk management strategies, including NTS, in four types of cattle-handling risks related to self, equipment, environment, and animal characteristics. A preliminary sample of 50 farmers from the UK and Ireland was recruited through farming forums and organisational contacts to take part in an online qualitative study. Participants were presented with eight scenarios, two per category of risk, and asked to report their reasoning for proceeding or not and to detail any risk management strategies used. Thematic analysis was used to identify patterns. Farmers appeared to evaluate risk in the light of animal welfare and duty. Scenarios concerning faulty equipment and animal characteristics were perceived as too dangerous. Farmers reported using NTS such as task management, situation awareness, and decision-making to reduce risk. Farmers also considered facilities important for safe completion of livestock operations. These findings suggest that future interventions should aim to frame risk based on farmer priorities and to formally raise awareness about the importance of NTS.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary Ergonomics and Human Factors 2019
Editors Rebecca Charles, David Golightly
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-9996527-1-5
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2019
EventErgonomics and Human Factors - Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Apr 20191 May 2019


ConferenceErgonomics and Human Factors
Abbreviated titleEHF
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Risk perception
  • non-technical skills
  • decision-making
  • scenarios
  • livestock


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