Children are a major casualty on Irish farms: 105 children died on Northern farms since 1968

Between 1968 and November 2015 there’s been 485 farming-related deaths in Northern Ireland, Malcolm Downey of the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) said.

Of this number of farming-related deaths, 105 of those have been children, the conference heard.

“This amount of lives lost is even more damning of our industry (farming). In 2003 five kids were killed on Northern Irish farms; that has been the worst in a long time.

“In 2010, one person was killed in a farming accident but then maybe people got complacent. In 2011 and 2012 there was 12 deaths in each year; it shot way up,” he said.

Machinery is the number one cause of farm deaths in Northern Ireland. Between 1968 and 2015, 256 of the farm deaths have been because of machinery.

Farmers falling off roofs or ladders and objects falling onto a farmer has been the next biggest cause with 76 deaths due to falls/ falling objects.

Animals on the farm was the next biggest cause of death on farms in Northern Ireland with livestock being responsible for 54 deaths in the period.

Drowning in a slurry tank or being overcome by fumes was the cause of 34 deaths since 1968 while the remaining 65 deaths were ‘other’ accidents.

Awareness

Downey said that there’s a desire in the North to for people to put more of an effort into safety for children on the farm.

“We have a high level of awareness. In 2015 we visited 87 primary schools, we had poster competitions and DVDs and comics,” he said.

Bryan Monson of the HSENI said that the message of farm safety was getting across, but behaviours weren’t changing.

He also said that in getting awareness across to farmers there’s been an increased focus on video content and a move away from paper.

In Northern Ireland the HSENI also has spotlight weeks on farm safety examples of which Monson said was coming up to slurry season and school holidays.

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