‘Europe is being fed on the lives of 1,000 farmers every single year’

Statistics in relation to the number of farm fatalities recorded in Europe every year have been called into question by Pat Griffin, a senior inspector with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

Griffin was one of the speakers who addressed a Knowledge Transfer (KT) event on farmer wellbeing that was hosted by CC Agri Consultants and the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) on Thursday, April 5, at the Hotel Kilmore in Cavan.

He argued that the issue of farm safety is a “worldwide problem“.

Speaking at event, he said: “Europe tells us that there are 12 deaths per 100,000 in agriculture every year; that’s wrong. I can’t get figures for fatalities in all of the 28 member states.

“The official figure that Europe will give me is [a figure of] 550 deaths per year in agriculture. I say that there are 1,000 deaths every year in agriculture right across Europe. 1,000 – when you include deaths that are happening in Bulgaria, Poland, Greece and all of those countries that don’t even report their figures.

So, Europe is being fed on the lives and blood of 1,000 farmers every single year.

“But, they don’t even know how many people are being killed. They know how many calves are being born every year in Europe, because that matters – food quality, food assurance and traceability.

“They care about the number of calves that are born, but they cannot tell us how many farmers are killed every year; it’s a disgrace,” he said.

Last year, a total of 24 fatal farm accidents occurred on Irish farms – with 14 of these fatalities being over 70 years of age, Griffin explained.

So far this year, five farming-related deaths have taken place; the most recent of these occurred in the past few days, when a farmer in his 60s was attacked and killed by a “freshly-calved cow” in the west of Ireland.