500 farm inspections in November to focus on safety while working at heights

A total of 500 farm inspections are scheduled to take place in a November, with a particular focus to be placed on safety while working at heights.

The month-long, intensive farm inspection campaign will be carried out by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and it will begin on Wednesday, November 1.

Following recent storms – and with the winter months just around the corner – the HSA is concerned that more deaths or serious injuries could occur, particularly if a person is carrying out repairs on a farm building.

The HSA has identified falling through fragile roofs or from ladders as particular dangers. Out of the 21 people killed due to farm accidents to date this year, three of them were as a result of falls from a height or falling objects, the association confirmed.

During the course of the month, HSA inspectors will be urging farmers to make sure that they have the right equipment and knowledge to work safely at heights.

Similar month-long inspection campaigns were carried out earlier this year, with particular focuses placed on the safe handling of livestock as well tractors and farm machinery.

Work on or near roofs can be adapted to make it safer, a senior inspector with the HSA, Pat Griffin, explained.

Most agricultural roofs are made from fragile materials such as galvanised sheeting or perspex and working on these is extremely risky and should be avoided if possible.

“We are urging farmers to find ways to replace roof fixings from underneath using work platforms. If the work can’t be done from underneath, use a mobile elevated work platform that allows access without having to stand on the roof itself.

“Also ladders, if used, must be tied or footed, to avoid slipping, and should only be used for a short duration,” he said.

Danger of falling objects

Griffin also took the opportunity to warn farmers that items stored at height can also be a danger.

We also want to highlight the dangers of falling objects, such as bales and bagged silage.

“These items are sometimes stored at height and it is important that they are properly stacked to avoid them falling and causing crush injuries,” he added.

The HSA and the Farm Safety Partnership are working to promote new approaches to accident prevention on farms based on international research.

These approaches and the protection of farmers and their livelihoods will be discussed at the National Farm Safety Conference in Ennis, Co. Clare, on November 17.