Savonia Article: SafeHabitus: Strengthening Farm Health and Safety Knowledge Innovation Systems
According to EU statistics, the fatality rate in farming is 233% higher than other industries, and the accident rate is 18% higher (Eurostat (2020) Key figures on the European food chain – 2021 edition). These figures are alarming, but they likely underestimate the problem, as many farm workplace injuries and ill health go unreported and uninvestigated.
SafeHabitus (2023-2026), funded under Horizon Europe, is a multi-actor project that aims to strengthen Farm Health and Safety Knowledge Innovation Systems (FHS KIS) and support the EU transition to social sustainability in farming. Improving farm health and safety requires action from a range of stakeholders. At SafeHabitus, we bring together farmers, farming organisations, farm advisors, researchers, trade unions, health authorities, policy stakeholders, and other relevant actors from across Europe to tackle the urgent occupational health and safety challenges faced by farmers and farm workers.
• Establish a network of 11 Communities of Practice (CoPs) that include farmers and farm workers, farming organizations, farm advisors, policy stakeholders, researchers, and other relevant actors. The CoPs represent a variety of countries and sectors and are focused on co-creating knowledge and solutions that improve farmers’ and farm workers’ health, safety, and quality of life.
• Improve the understanding and awareness of the occupational health and safety challenges faced by farmers’ and farm workers’ amongst policy makers, farmers organisations, trade unions, and health authorities.
• Identify the implications of farmers’ and farm workers’ perceptions of their work on the future of the sector and hence on long-term food security.
• Explore the potential of corporate social responsibility initiatives and bottom-up innovations that enhance farmer and farm worker health and safety.
• Develop recommendations for better performing EU and national policy, and governance frameworks favouring safer and more inclusive working environments for farmers and farm workers.
The SafeHabitus approach recognizes that enhancing awareness and understanding of risks and hazards is only part of the solution. Changing habitual and culturally conditioned practices is key to driving health and safety on farms. Therefore, a place-based, multi-actor approach is necessary, which considers the social, cultural, and institutional context that farmers and farm workers live and work in. The project uses a social innovation process that empowers farmers and other end-users to identify and share good practices and potential solutions within their CoP.
Work Package 2 (WP2) established 11 national CoP which apply collaborative practices that identify key issues within social, economic, cultural, and environmental contexts and assess potential solutions. A transnational CoP will enable mutual learning and sharing of experiences and results.
CoPs will inform the research team in Work Package 3 (WP3) by specifying priority needs, identifying potential solutions and analysing and testing good practices, digital tools, and education and training resources that support the adoption of solutions that improve farm safety.
Meanwhile, Work Package 4 (WP4) identifies current and future end-user needs to improve the attractiveness of farming, and a foresight exercise is undertaken to understand the implications of the twin transitions, i.e. digital and climate drivers of change.
In Work Package 5 (WP5), a ‘Fork to Farm’ assessment of the potential of Corporate Social Responsibility and bottom-up initiatives is conducted, with the aim of generating social, economic, and environmental impacts.
Work Package 6 (WP6) applies qualitative and participative research methods to develop policy recommendations and tools that improve health, safety and labour conditions in farming, based on the outcomes of the activities undertaken in WPs 3 – 5.
SafeHabitus is committed to improving the health and safety of farmers and farm workers, and we invite all stakeholders to join us in this mission. Together, we can make farming a safer and healthier industry for all.
Dr.Sc.Agr. Ardita Hoxha-Jahja, DVM