ACA outlines 14 key points to prevent accidents on farms

The Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) has unveiled 14 key points for farmers to keep in mind to avoid accidents on Irish farms.

The association highlighted its support for Farm Safety Week 2020, which runs this week from Monday, July 20, to Friday, July 24.

Commenting, ACA president Tom Canning said: “Agriculture continues to be the most dangerous work place in Ireland and ACA is committed in continuing to assist the Health and Safety Authority [HSA] and the new Minister for State with responsibility for farm safety, Martin Heydon, to increase awareness of farm safety issues to our significant farmer client base across the country.”

Canning outlined the 14 key recommendations for farmers to help reduce the occurrence of accidents on Irish farms:
  1. Look after your physical health. Have regular health checks to ensure early diagnosis of potential health problems;
  2. Wear the right clothes for the prevailing weather conditions. Use the recommended Personal protection equipment (PPE) when handling dangerous substances and materials. Wash your hands thoroughly after completing tasks;
  3. Organise your work correctly, stop rushing jobs and take your time to correctly assess all tasks;
  4. Maintain machinery in a good state of repair. Have machines serviced regularly and replace any dangerous parts. Never leave keys in machines. Always be aware of the dangers of operating machinery and seek professional help if you are unsure of how to work new machines;
  5. Ensure livestock housing and handling facilities are in good condition and designed to cater for the type of livestock on the farm. Be aware of the continuous dangers of handling livestock;
  6. Always let someone know where you are going, the work you will be completing and the estimated time of your return;
  7. Carry a mobile phone at all times to seek help if needed;
  8. Prevent entry of children to the farmyard or ensure supervision at all times;
  9. Never agitate slurry while stock are in the shed. Open all shed doors and do not enter while slurry is being agitated;
  10. Be aware of power lines when working with high loads or with machinery underneath;
  11. All PTO shafts must be fitted with the approved safety covers;
  12. Always have a properly stocked first aid box available;
  13. Have a risk assessment completed by a competent professional. Contact an ACA member for help;
  14. Quad bikes should only be used by experienced and competent operators and helmets must be worn at all times.

Continuing, Canning said: “Unfortunately and far too often our members are seeing the pain and grief of families affected by farm accidents which have resulted in life-changing injuries and death.

“All stakeholders in Irish agriculture have a responsibility to work together to help address farm safety and ACA will continue to work with all agencies to deal with this issue.

“Many of ACA’s members and staff in our 164 offices nationally provide regular farmer training courses on the agriculture safety code of practice and are available to help and advise farmers and their families and also visit them to give an independent assessment of their operations.

During Farm Safety Week 2020, we will be contributing to raising awareness of the dangers of all aspects of farming through an online campaign and also through individual member initiatives to their farmer clients.

“We have all endured exceptional times in Ireland since March of this year with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In dealing with farmers on a daily basis, ACA members have seen the effects, especially on older farmers, of Covid-19 restrictions, which have contributed further to social isolation in rural areas.

I would appeal to any of you experiencing mental health issues arising from this to seek help.

“You are not alone and there is no shame in seeking such help and there are many tremendous agencies available to assist you,” Canning concluded.