Department to issue farm safety message, as farm tragedies mount

The Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine, in conjunction with the Health & Safety Authority, is to issue a Farm Safety message to all farmers.

Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine, Simon Coveney, TD, said “Farming continues to be the most dangerous occupation in Ireland, with an average of 20 fatalities per year over the past 4 years. Already in 2014 there has been a number of fatalities on our farms”.

He continued: “Between 2000 and 2010, 27 children have died following a farm accident. The main causes of child fatalities are tractors/machinery and drowning. Last year alone, 4 children died as a result of a farm accident. The Minister stated “A farmyard can seem like a playground to a child’s eyes. However, children can’t be expected to anticipate the dangers of playing there. Therefore, parents need to see these dangers and set ground rules for children on farms. For example, carrying children as passengers in large machinery is taking a serious risk because tractors and machinery have been responsible for half of all farming fatalities in Ireland over the past 10 years”.

This year’s Farm Safety message will be included with the Single Payment Scheme farm maps when they are posted out this week. The message highlights child safety, in particular.

Each year, the Health & Safety Authority (HSA) conduct work place safety inspections. This year it will focus its inspections on high risk sectors with a target of 2,900 farm inspections for Agriculture alone.

A top priority for the HSA and the Department is to reduce the numbers killed and injured in Agriculture. HSA inspections address key issues of farm safety management such as tractor and machinery safety, animal handling, slurry handling and child and elderly safety. Chainsaw safety is also addressed in forestry inspections. The HSA plans to engage with marts and co-ops on a monthly basis to drive messages on critical safety issues home to farmers.

Speaking in relation to the HSA programme, the Minister said “Farmers have nothing to fear from HSA-led farm safety inspections. The benefits of working safely are immeasurable. In contrast, the cost of a serious farm accident, or worse a fatality, is a price too high for any farming family”.

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