Call for government departments to collaborate on schools’ farm safety week
Award-winning Aherla, Co. Cork based dairy farmer, Peter Hynes, is calling on the departments of agriculture and education to collaborate on a schools’ farm safety week.
According to the Health and Safety Authority, there has been one child fatality on an Irish farm to date in 2017, and one child tragedy last year. In the period 2006 to 2015, 24 children have been killed in farm accidents.
Peter and Paula Hynes have three children, and strongly believe that such an initiative would not only promote farm safety awareness, but also have other wide-ranging benefits. He has been posting videos and spreading the message on Twitter.
“I was chatting with a few other farmers about farm safety, as we all know it’s a big issue. We came to the conclusion that there are loads of resources available, but sometimes schools and other people don’t know about them.”
Hynes said they merely wanted to complement existing work in this area by: AgriKids; Agri Aware; the Health and Safety Authority; and the local authorities. Farmers need to get directly involved, he said.
He believes a farm safety week in all schools would make a difference in many areas. City schools should be included as part of a general awareness raising, as some of them have relatives who own farms. A side benefit, he said, would be a greater understanding of farming.
In rural schools, children would take home the message of farm safety, he said.
Parents will respond to kids’ messages and kids love taking part in the programmes as they are mad to learn. Some non-farming kids may end up joining the agriculture industry – an initiative like this could open the door for them.
Hynes said he was not looking for funding, just a dedicated week which could showcase all the available resources. “Farmers need to pull together and stand up to make a difference on this, and back up what Minister Creed is trying to do.”
Deirdre O’Shea, Executive Director of Agri Aware, said it has a number of education resources available for teachers to use in the education of pupils. These include ‘Dig In!’ http://agriaware.ie/uploads/files/digin/diginmodule3.pdf and a Farm Safety DVD which can be accessed at http://agriaware.ie/farmsafetydvd/
“Anything to highlight farming in a safe manner is a positive in my opinion. However, I believe this needs to be more than a once-off activity.
“A behavioural change and a change in mind-set is needed before we see real impact and real improvement in the number of farm accidents and fatalities,” she said.