The need for practical tips and advice that support farmers’ safety and wellbeing, backed by the sector and policy, was highlighted at the recent International Society Agricultural Safety and Health (ISASH) conference in Portland, Oregan, in the U.S., attended by founder of AgriKids, Alma Jordan.

A farm safety educational platform for pupils and teachers, AgriKids was founded with the ethos that we positively engage, educate and empower our children to become farm safety ambassadors.

“What struck me the most is the number of organisations and academic institutions that are so genuinely passionate about the safety and wellbeing of farmers, their families and about the idea of social sustainability within farming,” Alma told Agriland.

“One presentation by Dr. Florence Becot and Julia Sorenson, entitled ‘Are We Lost?’ asked this question to researchers in occupational health and safety. 

“Their goal was identifying the road blocks that crop up and the shared experiences of others in overcoming them. It must be noted that many of those in attendance and working in research are from and are actively working on farms, so they get it, they really do.

“They appreciate that farmers and families already know a farm is dangerous and that they can get hurt, it’s something they have accepted. 

“So, what they really need are practical tips and advice to support their safety and wellbeing – tips that are real world, doable and supported by the sector and policy makers,” the AgriKids founder continued.

US conference
The attendance at the child agricultural safety network (CASN) breakfast

“The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) presentation on ‘Celebrating Women in Ag’ brought up the issue of PPE for women and children which has been cited as more expensive – if it can be found at all – as well as ill fitting. 

“The unique nature of farms and the challenges around childcare and how to grow the availability of affordable accessible care came up as well as other social issues such as how to engage and motivate youth and teens on safety,” she said.

“The presentation on ATV safety saw input from U.S, Australia as well as Ireland where the fitting of crash protection devices (CPDs) is improving safety and reducing injury despite the negative press in Australia.

“This was referred to ‘as total garbage’ by Australian farm safety academic Dr Richard Franklin whose practical approach to the topic calls on the use of evidence and real world solutions.

“He was a breath of fresh air on this topic, which let’s face it, can become a little stagnated,” she explained.


Other big topics at the ISASH conference, she outlined, included tractors and the provision of ROPS (rollover protective structures), more an issue in the U.S. than in Ireland, she said, and road safety campaigns for agricultural vehicles.

The ‘Tell a Story’ session presented by Melissa Ploeckelman from the National Farm Medicine centre, touched on the communications strategy offered to survivors who wanted to share their stories to help improve safety. 

“This safe place for survivors afforded students and communities the opportunity to hear insight from those truly affected by a farm accident, from those who survived and those who have been left behind. 

US conference
Alma Jordan, on right, sharing the SafeHabitus book with Dr. Bryan Weichelt, Scott Heiberger, Melissa Ploeckelman from the National Farm Medicine Centre, Dr. Florence Becot and Linda Fetzer, University Pennsylvania

“In all there was close to 100 presentations, meeting and symposiums covering everything from improving hearing loss interventions in our youth, safety for farm families coping with dementia, mental health, cultivating wellness, use of VR technology and lawnmower safety,” said the AgriKids founder.

AgriKids also had the opportunity to distribute the SafeHabitus booklet produced by the Irish Community of Practice and includes AgriKids as one of its best practice abstracts.

“The booklet will also be available online shortly and was produced by SafeHabitus research officer, Dr Diana van Doorn and SafeHabitus lead Dr David Meredith, both from Teagasc

“The challenge now for AgriKids and myself is to bring the insight and innovation that I have absorbed, as best I can, back home and implement it into the ethos and practice of AgriKids going forward. 

“This way I can be sure that not only is AgriKids relevant and suitable for purpose but that it remains at the forefront of cutting edge education and empowerment of the children, families and educators who use it,” Alma said.