According to statistics from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) some 18 farmers lost their lives working on their farms in 2013. Coupled with this it also estimates in the region of 2,500 serious farm accidents also take place each year.

The HSA also highlighted that a recent study has also indicated that farmer’s health is poorer than for other occupational groups.

With these concerning statistics in mind a new Memorandum of Understanding between Teagasc and the HSA was signed recently. The document outlines that the organisations will work jointly to promote improved farm health and safety adoption by farmers in Ireland.

The current agreement has been in place since 2005 and developed the Farm Health and Safety Code of Practice. According to the parties involved the new joint initiative will again operate in conjunction with the Farm Safety Partnership advisory committee to the HSA, which is representative of farming organisations and state agencies with a role in promoting farm health and safety.

Teagasc director professor Gerry Boyle stated that the agreement will be to encourage positive health and safety behaviour change among farmers and support follow-through on the intention.

He said: “Teagasc will use its national knowledge transfer system of training, advice provision and network of discussion groups to assist farmers with health and safety adoption. Teagasc also has a number of current health and safety research projects in progress that will provide new knowledge to assist farmers.”

Martin O’Halloran, chief executive officer of the HSA said that the collaboration in promoting farm safety and health has been very effective.
He stressed: “Research carried out by the organisation provides us with a better understanding of what influences people’s behaviour leading to an accident occurring.

“There is a constant need for vigilance on farms in relation to safety and we urge all farmers to take time to assess the risks on their farms and take corrective action. The work of other organisations through the Farm Safety Partnership in promoting health and safety on farms is also acknowledged.”