Many childhood farm tractor injuries occur during the performance of work that was assigned by parents, and some tractor work is beyond the developmental capabilities of children. This has been highlighted recently by a policy statement authored by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The objective of this study was 1) to assess child development knowledge of farm parents who received a new resource, the North American Guidelines for Children's Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT), and 2) to determine whether this knowledge was associated with use of NAGCAT in the assignment of tractor jobs and with compliance with 2 aspects of the NAGCAT tractor guideline.
Secondary analysis of data collected during a randomized controlled trial that involved 450 farms in the United States and Canada was conducted. Variables assessed included 1) parental knowledge of child development across several age groups and 3 domains of child development (physical, cognitive, and psychosocial), 2) documentation of the most common tractor jobs assigned to each child, and 3) a report of whether NAGCAT was used in assigning these tractor jobs.
High parental knowledge of child development was associated with enhanced use of NAGCAT and fewer violations when assigning tractor work to children. However, even in the presence of high knowledge, some farm parents still assigned to their children work that was in violation of NAGCAT.
Educational interventions by themselves are not sufficient to remove many farm children from known occupational hazards. These findings are discussed in light of the recent policy statement on agricultural injuries from the American Academy of Pediatrics.