The level of uptake and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by farm workers in Oman is low; the conditions under which pesticides are stored are frequently below acceptable international standards. Research was undertaken to explore the drivers working against safe storage of agrochemicals and effective personal protection usage by pesticide application personnel. Results from a survey of over 200 respondents, representing workers in, and owners of, farms either within or outside a local farmer's association (FA), suggest that FA membership raises standards of behaviour both in terms of safe pesticide storage and use of PPE. Age of respondents had no apparent effect on the likelihood of PPE (gloves and masks) use. PPE use was, however, highest among respondents with more advanced educational backgrounds. Positive responses for glove and mask use, when applying pesticides, were higher for owners and workers in FA farms compared to non-FA farms. Lowest reported use of PPE was among workers in non-FA farms. Analysis of responses appears to indicate that behaviour patterns of workers in FA farms mirror that of the farm owners. This was not the case in non-FA farms. The results suggest that conformity to social norms, in this case acceptable work-environment behaviour, is a powerful driver behind raised usage levels of PPE in farms in Oman.
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