Health and safety inspections to be carried out on almost 500 farms in March

Almost 500 farms will be visited by inspectors from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) in March, as part of a month-long campaign.

The intensive farm inspection campaign is set to begin on March 1, with the HSA placing a particular focus on the safe handling of livestock.

The inspections are aimed at reducing the number of accidents resulting in injury and death on farms.

With March proving to be a particularly busy period for calving the risk of serious injury can be very high, according to the HSA.

Inspectors will be focusing on the common risks encountered during the calving period, as well as general livestock safety.

It is important that farmers take the time to minimise dangerous situations, Senior Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, Pat Griffin, said.

“I would encourage farmers to take time to understand the basics of animal behaviour and be alert for signs of aggression.

“In particular, care is needed around cows with a new born calf when they can be unpredictable and much more likely to attack.

Never turn your back on a cow with a new born calf, have a planned escape route and keep children and inexperienced handlers well away.

“The calving area should provide adequate space, be tidy, well-bedded with clean straw and be clearly lit and free of obstructions.

“Also, well designed calving pens and gates are important and help minimise the direct physical contact between the cow, or heifer, and farmer,” he said.

Griffin also encouraged farmers to ask for help during the calving period.

“Farmers are working long hours, often with broken sleep, so fatigue and general tiredness can also be a factor. Our message is simple, stay alert, don’t take risks and get help when it’s needed.

The types of injuries that can be sustained with livestock attacks are very serious and can be life-threatening.

The HSA provides a range of information and advice on a variety of farm safety matters, including the safe handling of livestock, on its website.

Basic Payment cuts would make farmers take note of safety

Some 55% of farmers who responded to a recent Agriland poll said a cut to their Basic Payment would make them sit up and take notice of farm safety.

The poll results came following the announcement by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) that farming was the most dangerous profession in Ireland in 2016.

According to the HSA, some 21 people lost their lives in farm accidents in 2016. Nine of these were men over the age of 65.

In addition, the poll results show that 76% of farmers think their farm is safe. This is despite the agricultural sector recording the highest number of fatalities over the past seven years.

Furthermore, almost three out of every four farmers (74%) said they felt their farm would pass a farm safety inspection, while 65% said farm safety inspections are stringent enough.