210 people die on Irish farms over nine year period
During the recently held Knowledge Transfer meeting at Granard Mart, sheep farmer and AXA representative Myles Reilly spoke about farm safety and the efforts that will have to be made by those in the industry to address the issue in a positive and effective way.
During the course of his work over the years Mr. Reilly has visited a lot of farms where a loved one has been lost during working hours.
He says that despite this, there has been a lot of progression within the sector over the years.
“We started off with the cocks of hay, then we got into the baler and tractors improved; we are progressing all the time but still people in the media give farmers a lot of stick from time to time,” continued the sheep farmer.
“They ask why farmers are getting away with so many accidents? Why are there so many fatalities on Irish farms?
“Then they say, ‘sure look, you are living on single farm payments’. What we need is to get better and what we are doing and show these people what it’s all about.”
Mr. Reilly then pointed to the advances in machinery, particularly tractors.
“These days we have tractors with a 60K box; when I was growing up I learned to drive on a 35X and the only way you could make it go faster was to knock it out of gear,” the Co. Longford sheep farmer laughed before moving on to more serious matters.
“We need to be very careful about who is driving these tractors. We can put a 16 year old guy up on that tractor with the 60K box, throw a phone into the equation, throw Facebook into the equation and what have you got…you have got a lethal weapon.
Speeding, inexperienced drivers have also been involved in serious accidents so the reality is that we need to be very careful about who drives the tractor; it is as simple as that.
“We need to be conscious of the young lad starting off on a farm. We also need to be aware of older drivers as well and ask ourselves, ‘who is driving these tractors and are they competent to do it?'”
Mr. Reilly said the industry is now seeing an increase in accidents involving machinery and in particular with front loaders.
“The front loader is a super tool these days. The handbrake – that is something that we need to be really conscious of too and something that we need to get better at using,” he added before pointing to a number of serious on-farm accidents as a direct result of the misuse of handbrakes.
Mr. Reilly told those gathered that of those 210 fatalities, 68 involved tractors; 42 machinery; 20 fatalities occurred from drowning / gas inhalation; 22 from falls from heights; 13 from livestock; 15 from falling objects; 3 from electrical; and 13 from timber.
“Some people say that children shouldn’t be allowed on the farm, but I disagree with that,” Mr. Reilly told the meeting, before pointing to the latest legislation which disallows children under a certain age to be carried on tractors.
“Children should of course be allowed on the farm; that’s the way we all grew up seeing cows calving and seeing livestock – all part and parcel of farm life.
“If children get into the habit of getting onto the tractor though, they are going to be crossing yards to get on it, so if at all possible don’t let children near them. The farm is not a playground.”