4 key risk areas highlighted in beef farm health and safety

Farmers are being urged to be become more safety aware by Minister of State Pat Breen during his visit to the joint Health and Safety Authority / Teagasc ‘Farm Safety Area’ at Teagasc’s BEEF 2018 today.

The Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection spoke at the event, which took place at Teagasc, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre in Grange Co. Meath.

During his visit the minister met with farmers and toured the event where live safety demonstrations were taking place.

According to the HSA, there have been nine fatal farm accidents so far this year, with tractors and farm vehicles responsible for three deaths; animals and livestock causing three more; as well as falls from height, machinery and equipment, and timber-related incidents all accounting for one death each.

The demonstrations focused on four key areas where risks are particularly high for beef farmers. These included: quad bike operation; tractor operation and visibility; trailer weight matching; and working from heights.

Quad bike operation

The priority of the Health and Safety Authority is to promote training and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Quad bikes have been involved in 12 fatal accidents over the last 10 years – while there were four quad bike related fatalities in 2017 alone.

These vehicles are becoming more popular, according to the HSA, and 75% of recent quad bike related fatalities involved persons over 65 years of age.

Tractor operation and visibility issues

Crush injuries inflicted during the operation of tractors are the most common cause of fatal accidents on farms.

Most farmers think the PTO is the most dangerous item on the farm. The HSA is working to change this mind-set so that farmers see the tractor as the biggest risk of death or injury.

Vehicle and trailer weight matching

New road safety legislation is very specific on towing capacity for different vehicles, including cars, jeeps, tractors.

Gardai from the specialist Traffic Unit were demonstrating weight limits for livestock horse boxes and trailers.

Working at height

Falls from height are becoming a more frequent cause of fatal accidents on farms, according to the HSA.

Efforts are being made to encourage farmers to make use of mobile elevated work platforms when carrying out work at height. These units were demonstrated.

Speaking at the event today Minister Breen said: “This event is a good opportunity for me to meet with farm safety experts and farmers and to highlight the very good work that is happening on the ground to improve farm safety.

What I see today is huge interest, understanding and enthusiasm from farmers for working safely.

Also commenting, Prof. Gerry Boyle, director of Teagasc, said: “I am pleased to welcome Minister Pat Breen to Beef 2018.

“We have a comprehensive farm health and safety exhibit in association with the Health and Safety Authority.

“Along with the key areas such as livestock safety, quad bikes, tractors and vehicles, health promotion will also be strongly emphasised.

The Irish Heart Foundation is on hand to conduct blood pressure checks and farmer wellness is receiving strong attention.

Finally, Pat Griffin, senior inspector for agriculture with the Health and Safety Authority, added his views saying: “Farmers may not see the danger because they work with machinery and livestock on a daily basis but all it takes is one lapse for a serious accident to occur.”