Aquaculture North America

Stress and tiredness key factors in farming accidents

October 8, 2021
By Liza Mayer

Photo: © Budimir Jevtic / Adobe Stock

Stress and fatigue are a key cause of farming accidents, says a new study from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.  

“We found consistently that farmers’ stress and fatigue can negatively affect their mental picture of what is going on, which leads to accidents and incidents,” said researcher Ilinca-Ruxandra Tone.  

In the UK, agriculture is the most dangerous industry, measured by fatality and injury rate, the study says. Farm deaths rose by 60 percent this year to a total of 34 fatalities, significantly higher than the five-year average.  

In the United States, animal production and aquaculture ranked 6th among industries with the highest rates of workplace injuries, with 5.6 cases per 100 workers, according to 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Couriers and messengers experience the highest workplace-related injuries with 8.1 cases per 100 workers).


In Canada, aquaculture occupational health and safety is understudied, according to a study led by Cory Ochs of the Ocean Frontier Institute, Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her team’s analysis of provincial occupational injury compensation claims showed “marine aquaculture workers are suffering from similar injuries (injury event, nature and source of injury, body parts) across provinces.” These are similar to aquaculture sector injury claims patterns in Norway, Finland, Australia, and the United States,” added the study, which was published in July in ScienceDirect.  

The University of Aberdeen study showed that situation awareness lapses were present in all accidents and incidents reported and that many lapses occurred at the “perception” level, such as a failure to notice something. 

Other lapses in situation awareness were described at the “comprehension” level in the form of an incorrect or incomplete understanding of the situation, such as misjudging the size of a vehicle. Some of these incidents were attributed to a recent change in equipment or machinery or over-familiarity with existing equipment.  

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