The "Fatal Injuries"17 report also concludes that many of the accidents and deaths were avoidable, had proper risk assessments been carried out. The "Farmwise"18 publication also highlights the 'culture' required to maintain and achieve good health and safety standards within a business, reinforcing issues such as "communication, co-operation, competence and control". All these reports, investigations and development programs are based on the number of accidents and how they occurred; none of them attempts to answer the 'actual' reasons for the large number of accidents and deaths within the industry.
The reports have indicate that many people within the industry have financial worries and stress, although is this a contributing factor to the accidents? Having decided on the research topic, it must then be broken down to generate a series of research questions, enabling the researcher to establish exactly what they are trying to answer. In recent years the HSE along with many other government bodies have developed campaigns to reduce the number of fatal injuries in the agricultural industry. Despite these campaigns the number of injuries has only fallen slightly, and the number of child deaths has risen.
By answering the above questions the report will highlight the level of knowledge that managers and owners have of the health and safety policies/legislation, and discover why the number of injuries has not fallen dramatically. It may be that the industry requires an improved source of information or that the managers/owners are simply 'cutting corners'. White (2000) states, "The approach used to investigate a topic is the 'methodology' and is vitally important to ensure that "data and information which is collected and analysed is never wasted".
"Many business, social and economic questions can be assessed and evaluated more closely if some data are available upon which to base a discussion and decision"20. Qualitative research is a "descriptive, non-numerical way to collect data and interpret information"21, whilst Quantitative research provides results in numerical values and uses mathematic statistics to evaluate the results. Within qualitative research there are many methods used to collect data, and the choice is dependable on the topic area, type of results required and financial issues.
A popular choice is an interview, which if carried out correctly can provide a good source of information. Advantages of interviews are that they can be used in a variety of situations and alongside other methods. The 'face-to-face' nature can also ensure that any misunderstandings are resolved immediately. Although disadvantages such as time consuming and travelling may lead to only a small number of interviews being carried out. An observation method ensures that an accurate 'account' is obtained, which can consist of both verbal and non-verbal information.
Although this method is also time consuming. The diary method can be used to ask participants to keep an account of the research; this allows the researcher more time for other areas, although details recorded can be insufficient if the exact requirements are not fully explained to the participant. A case study is an extensive single study of the area, allowing collection of detailed information; they can be carried out cheaply by the researcher and can also take place in familiar surroundings. Although the researcher can become personally involved which may lead to a bias opinion.
"Quantitative research sets up a hypothesis or theory"22, and " is often termed hypothetico-deductive"23. The method used consists of surveys, questionnaires or both. Primary Research There are many methods of collecting 'primary' data, questionnaires, case studies, Interviews, observation, diary and action, although all these have advantages and disadvantages. The method used will depend on the type of research being undertaken, time and financial constraints, and also the location of both the interviewee and interviewer. From these pros and cons its has been decided to use the following:
Questionnaires: (see appendix 9 for questionnaire and appendix 10 for covering letter) A questionnaire is a list of questions designed to obtain certain information and view from the population. Questionnaires must be correctly written to avoid misunderstanding and bias. A questionnaire will also be used to establish the knowledge of farmers and managers of health and safety legislations, and also to establish if they are complying with these legislations. The questionnaire will be distributed to 200 farmers and farm managers; it will also include an addressed envelope to return the questionnaire.