Assessment of personal protective equipment use among farmers in eastern North Carolina: a cross-sectional study.
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Agriculture consistently ranks among the top hazardous occupations, accounting for a significant number of injuries and fatalities in the workplace. Eastern North Carolina has a significant number of small, independent, family-run, owned, and operated farms. However, little is known about perception, behavior, training, accessibility, or purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) for safety among farmers in the region. In this study, telephone interviews were conducted among participating farmers between March and June 2012 (N = 129). Univariate and bivariate analyses were conducted to examine associations between PPE behavior and workplace hazards, health-related concerns, and wearing and purchasing PPE. Findings indicated that personal behavior of wearing hearing protection devices (HPDs) and protection from the sun among farmers was low. However, a relatively high percentage of farmers reported wearing PPE when working with agricultural chemicals. Most farmers received training from agricultural extension offices. The findings indicate that, in general, farmers are well aware of the risks associated with occupational hazards and recognize concern for health and safety protection in the workplace. Transitioning these concerns into preventative action remains a challenge and priority for the agricultural health professional.