Non-Technical Skills in Agriculture - Workshop

A Workshop convened by the University of Aberdeen's Industrial Psychology Research Centre (IPRC) on 26 April brought delegates from different disciplines together to discuss 'Non-Technical Skills' (NTS) and the lessons which can be learned and similarities between very different sectors and activities as diverse as aviation and firefighters.

The Workshop was convened and led by Dr Amy Irwin and a series of Focus Groups provided the research team with some direction on how to roll-out their research findings to farming and raise awareness of their useful guidance already produced.

Other speakers included 'Human Factors' and Training Consultants, a PhD student carrying our research on NTS in aviation, and Iain Sutherland from HSE.

RIG Vice Chair Alan Plom was the final speaker, explaining how 'NTS' are included in IOSH and other agricultural training courses and the scope for expanding this element. Alan also pulled the various threads together in the context of working with the national Farm Safety Partnerships and the part that IOSH and RIG members can play in raising awareness and disseminating the guidance.

We all agreed that NTS are a vital component in training, to be considered together with traditional 'skills' training. Many IOSH courses already include the critical elements of NTS, presenting them as a core part of the risk management process.

Clearly, NTS alone are not a solution and must be considered as an essential adjunct to the 'hierarchy of safety', ie it is better to remove any hazard and minimise associated risk first, before relying on individuals to protect themselves. However, a high proportion of deaths and injuries show that it is vital for anyone at work to possess (and apply) 'NTS' to protect themselves from harm.

The classic example is awareness of overhead power lines on site, but NTS extends beyond situational awareness to include planning and decision-making, leadership, managing tasks, communications and teamwork.

A series of useful information sheets, a selection of short animated videos explaining NTS in agriculture and other guidance is available (free) from the NTS website.

The full event is also available as a webinar (in two parts):