Gender, Occupational Health and Safety Practices, and Injury Among Saskatchewan Farm Adolescents
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Background: Farming is an hazardous occupation. The underlying determinants of farm injury are not well understood among adolescent populations, particularly from a gender lens. Objectives: (1) To evaluate the association between gender and occupational health and safety practices reported for hazardous work among working adolescent farm children; and, (2) to evaluate the association between use of such practices and time to farm injury, and also whether such associations vary by gender. Methods: Survey data from an existing farm injury cohort were available for analysis. Occupational health and safety practices were: non-use of personal protective equipment, non-use of training and supervision for work with heavy equipment, non-use of training and supervision for work with large animals, and conduct of hazardous tasks. Logistic regression was used to examine associations between gender and use of safety practices, and Cox regression was used to examine relationships between occupational health and safety practices and time to first injury. Results: Girls reported increased odds for the non-use of personal protective equipment (adjusted OR 2.39 [95% CI: 1.16, 4.94]). There was no evidence of an association between gender and the conduct of hazardous tasks (adjusted OR 0.69 [95% CI: 0.28, 1.73]). Gender patterns surrounding non-use of training and supervision for work with equipment (adjusted OR 2.38 [95% CI: 0.53, 10.66]) and with animals (adjusted OR 1.52 [95% CI: 0.75, 3.06]) were not significant. Use of personal protective equipment (adjusted HR 1.25 [95% CI: 0.76, 2.06]) did not significantly reduce the risk of farm injury, neither did use of training and supervision during equipment work (HR 1.25 [95% CI: 0.69, 2.28]), nor during animal work (HR 1.06 [95% CI: 0.59, 1.92]), or the conduct of hazardous tasks (HR 1.04 [95% CI: 0.67, 1.63]). Further, there was no significant modification of these associations and injury by gender. Conclusions: Among adolescents, farm occupational health and safety practices appear to vary by gender. Girls on farms report fewer exposures to hazards, and receive less training and supervision and less use of personal protective equipment, consistent with assigned tasks. While gender appears to play a role in the assignment of farm tasks and occupational health and safety practices, these practices did not reduce the likelihood of subsequent injury. As well, the latter associations did not appear to vary by gender. A public health approach that recognizes gender as a determinant of hazardous farm exposures and associated occupational health and safety practices is needed.