On December 4, 2023, the inaugural meeting of the Finnish Community of Practice (FinCoP) took place. The event was conducted in a hybrid format, with participants meeting face-to-face at Savonia Iisalmi Campus and online. FinCoP brought together approximately 20 members from diverse organizational backgrounds. The network gathers representation from various entities, including farmers, TTS, MELA, TTL, MTK, Farmers’ holiday and stand-in scheme organisations, ProAgria, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, LUKE, and Savonia University of Applied Sciences. This diverse composition enables FinCoP to gather insights from a multi-actor community and translate them into practical guidance for end-users, particularly farmers.
The first FinCoP workshop delved into the complexities of farm work in Finland taking into the whole project focus Finnish dairy sector. FinCoP members focused on the current situation of the Finnish dairy farms and their work culture especially taking into account work safety. The objective was taken to pinpoint areas for improvements and draw a clear thematic plan for the FinCoP’s future workshops.
During the inaugural morning session, the Community of Practice (CoP) members convened for the first time as a collective. This provided an opportunity for everyone to introduce themselves and gain insights into the focus and objectives of the SafeHabitus project. Many compelling and insightful presentations from selected CoP members were given.
Jarkko Leppälä delved into the topic of “Culture on the farm”, emphasizing that successful farms are underpinned by effective leadership rooted in an efficient work and a safety-oriented culture. Risto Rautiainen and Janne Karttunen offered a analysis of works and statistics in Finnish farms, comparing them with other countries. The unique social system in Finland and its world-leading statistics were brought to light, as werethe challenges:especially in reducing accidents related to working with lvestock and carrying out machine maintenance.
Agricultural entrepreneur Juha Kantoniemi provided valuable insights into the Finnish Dairy Sector. He underscored the significance of effective farm management and a respectful approach to safety culture for ensuring work safety. The inherent challenge in many farms lies in the difficulty of changing deeply-ingrained old habits. The general outlook for dairy farming in Finland is promising. Given the increasing number of consumers and the country’s lower vulnerability to climate change farmers’ share of the total consumer price may not necessarily increase. There is an ongoing need at the farm level to continually enhance competitiveness and efficiency.
Anna-Riikka Pukari from MELA directed our attention to the crucial aspects of farmers’ well-being and the efficient management of farm work. She introduced MELA’s overarching vision and primary objectives, emphasising the commitment to enhance farmers’ well-being while minimising accidents and work-related diseases. The breadth of MELA’s extensive portfolio of services and tools was highlighted, serving as a robust foundation to support their vision of continual improvement.
The afternoon session was structured around multi-actor working groups, with the aim of concentrating efforts and identifying potential themes for future workshops within the FinCoP. Four working groups were organised. Each group presented the outcomes of their collaborative discussions..
Group 1 emphasised the significance of integrating culture into work safety and cultivating a positive attitude on farms as their primary theme. They also addressed the importance of initiatives such as creating safety cards, effective work management, enhancing the appeal of farms as workplaces, risk management in working with cattle, machinery safety, ergonomic considerations, and the distinctive features of Arctic agriculture.
For Group 2, the central focus revolved around best practices and challenges related to Farmers’ holiday and stand-in schemes. They called for a closer examination of the ratio of fatal accidents on farms, emphasised the need to explore the impact of advisories and studies, and discussed issues surrounding accidents caused by time pressures and hectic schedules.
Group 3 centered their attention on the organisation and induction of farm work. They advocated for a focus on the future farm structure, understanding the impact of fatigue on farm safety, valuing positive experiences, and the potential influence of sharing safety examples. Additionally, they stressed the importance of proper protective gear, preventive measures, and investments in work safety.
Group 4 brought work safety management to the forefront, emphasising the significance of work safety tools.. They underscored the critical aspect of mental health support for farmers, and the need for the effective implementation of safety theories into practical measures when addressing farm safety.