MEP for Ireland East and Member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Liam Aylward, has called on the European Commission to prioritise farm safety as part of the next European Strategy on Health and Safety at Work.

Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week, the Ireland East MEP highlighted that farmers are seven times more likely to die in a workplace accident than members of the general workforce.

“The last European Strategy on Health and Safety at Work concluded in 2012 and as yet the European Commission have not come forward with a new strategy,” said Aylward.

“The commission have an opportunity here to address the challenges facing farmers in terms of workplace health and safety.

“The farm is not a typical work place and as such, standard health and safety regulations are not always suitable or relevant. When we consider the long hours in all weathers, the wide variety of hazards facing farmers – mechanical, electrical, chemical, biological, as well as respiratory disease and zoonosis, coupled with the isolated nature of the work – it is apparent that health and safety concerns in agriculture are not the same as other sectors.”

Aylward added that the risk factors are higher and more frequent and farms are often not just a place of work but also a family homestead where the risks are multiplied.

“Since I raised this issue several months ago no progress has been made and several more lives have been lost. Health and safety is a fundamental requirement of a sustainable farming business, farm management and a safe homestead. I would urge the commission to prioritise this sector in the new strategy with the necessary policy guidance and resources.”

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