24 farm deaths in 2017: What happened and what can we learn?

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has released a detailed breakdown of the circumstances surrounding the 24 farm fatalities that took place last year in light of Farm Safety Week 2018, which runs throughout this week.

The authority noted in a post on Twitter yesterday (Monday, July 16) that last year marked the eighth year in a row that the agricultural sector recorded the highest number of work-related fatalities in Ireland.

County breakdown

According to the HSA, Co. Wexford suffered the highest number of casualties – with four people losing their lives in farm-related incidents.

This was followed by Cork, which incurred three fatalities – while counties Clare, Waterford, Offaly and Kilkenny all recorded two deaths.

Source: HSA

In addition, counties Limerick, Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon, Westmeath, Tipperary, Monaghan, Meath and Wicklow all recorded one fatality each.

In terms of causes and triggers, 13 people were killed by farm vehicles; falling from heights, livestock and suffocation were each responsible for three deaths.

Farm machinery (implements) and falling objects were also the cause of one death each.

Demographics

A total of 66% of people who died as a result of a farm-related accident in 2017 were aged 60 or over, the HSA noted.

Breaking this down further, six accident victims were aged in their 80s, seven were in their 70s and three victims were in their 60s.

A single child died last year, with four more victims aged in their 20s or 30s; the remaining three fatalities were aged between 50 and 59.

During the months of April, May and September last year, four fatalities were recorded in each month. Meanwhile, three farm deaths were documented during March, June and October.

A single death was noted in January, August and November, according to the HSA.

Preventative measures

In light of these figures, the HSA has stressed five priority measures for farmers to pay particular attention to.

These are:
  1. Advance planning;
  2. Operator training;
  3. Management and control of machinery and animal movement;
  4. Maintenance programmes;
  5. Physical and mental health.

For those interested in learning more, further information on best practice and farm safety is available on the HSA’s website.