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August 26, 2014

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Farmers’ wellbeing tops the agenda at meeting of international experts

Health and safety experts are sharing their knowledge around improving the occupational wellbeing of agricultural entrepreneurs at an international meeting in Finland.
 
The meeting, organised by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) and Mela (The Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution), has over 50 participants with representatives from the USA and South Korea, as well as those from the Nordic countries.
 
Agriculture and forestry work comes second only to construction work when looking at accident rates. Additionally, agricultural workers are at risk of respiratory allergies, skin disease, repetitive strain injuries and noise injuries.
 
Jukka Mäittälä, head of development at FIOH, says: “The social security system in Finland creates a good base for promoting the wellbeing at work of agricultural entrepreneurs.”
 
In Finland, an agricultural entrepreneur is entitled to compensation for occupational health service costs as well as to reduced accident insurance rate.
 
“In this way,” says Mäittälä, “we encourage those in this high-risk work to care of their wellbeing.”
 
Mechanisation and the growing size of farms makes farmers’ work increasingly more demanding. The work requires new skills, in, for example, management and IT, as well as learning to take into account the safety of complicated machinery.
 
Sweden has also previously made progress in this area, particularly with the promotion of the “Safe Farmers Common Sense” project. Over five years, several agricultural organisations campaigned nationally on behalf of occupational safety and reducing the amount of accidents in agriculture. A report at the end of the campaign showed that fatal accidents had decreased by 45 per cent. 

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