On December 7, 2023, the kick-off meeting of the core group of the Slovenian Community of Practice took place at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. The latter is the partner in the SafeHabitus project. The members of the Slovenian CoP met for the first time and exchanged ideas in a relaxed atmosphere.
The groups consist of farmers and their representative organizations, farm advisors, insurance consultants, labour inspectors, representatives of the ministries of agriculture and labour, interested citizens and researchers in the fields of anthropology, geography, sociology and veterinary medicine. They have different professional and personal connections to agriculture and different views on the most acute health and safety issues on farms, which is a good starting point for the learning process within the group. They all agree that health and safety in agriculture needs to be addressed and improved in the coming years.
A presentation of the SafeHabitus project and the Community of Practice model was followed by a moderated discussion on the problems and needs of Slovenian farmers and other farm workers in the field of occupational health and safety. The members of the Slovenian CoP discussed the statistics on accidents and illnesses on family farms and agreed that the reason for the great confusion in this area is the heterogeneous input data resulting from the inconsistent definitions of farmer status. They also noted that good interpersonal relationships, pension provision and social and health protection for members of family farms are the cornerstones of maintaining the profession.
They agreed that a well-informed person on health and safety issues is key to avoiding work-related accidents and illness on the farm, but that more should be done to provide regular reminders of hazards and risks, prevention and farm replacement service in case there is a shortage of labour on the farm during farmer illness/injury and vacations. Members also identified socialisation into the farming profession as problematic, as the risks of illness and injury at work are rarely addressed and even normalised.
The members of the Slovenian CoP are looking forward to the following activities and discussions. They will meet again in January next year and in the meantime exchange research reports, articles and other materials.