€624,000 in funding allocated for farm safety in 2018

An estimated figure of approximately €624,000 has been allocated for farm safety initiatives by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) in 2018.

This is up some €90,000 on last year’s allocation of €533,995, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys explained in the Dail recently.

2016 saw €416,917 spent by the HSA on farm safety initiatives, she added.

The minister was responding to a parliamentary question put forward by Fianna Fail spokesperson on agriculture, food and the marine, deputy Charlie McConalogue, who asked how much funding was allocated for farm safety initiatives in 2016, 2017 and 2018; as well as the amount allocated for farm safety initiatives in 2019.

Deputy McConalogue also requested the number of inspections on farms in 2016, 2017 and to date in 2018; the number of fatalities on farms in this period annually; as well as the percentage of farm fatalities out of total workplace fatalities recorded by the HSA as a percentage.

As of October 26, the HSA had conducted 1,594 farm inspections in 2018 – just over 400 short of its set target of 2,000 inspections for the year.

This compares to 1,776 inspections carried out by the authority in 2017, and 2,008 farm inspections conducted in 2016.

60% of workplace fatalities

As of October 26, farm deaths accounted for 60% of all workplace fatalities in 2018, and 50% of such incidents since 2016, making up 17 of 38, and 62 of 122 deaths respectively.

While the HSA was originally allocated a budget of €384,000 for farm safety initiatives in 2017, the actual expenditure was higher at €533,995 due to the allocation of additional funding during the course of the year, Minister Humphreys said.

“In 2018 the HSA has allocated approximately €624,000 for farm safety initiatives. The actual figure expended might vary during the year in response to particular issues that arise in this or other sectors.

“These initiatives will involve the organisation of, participation in, or support of a wide range of agriculture-related events as well as media coverage.

“The authority will also engage in a number of targeted promotional campaigns through relevant media,” the minister said.

In 2018 the HSA has carried out three focused one-month inspection campaigns.

The first campaign focused on ‘Livestock Handling’ in March, followed by a campaign on ‘Farm Vehicle Safety’ in May, with a third on ‘Working at Height and Maintenance’, which took place in October.

In addition to these specific campaigns, other national campaigns related to vehicle and construction safety will have relevance to the farming sector, the minister said.

Inspection visits

In addition to specific farm safety campaigns or initiatives, inspection visits to farms by inspectors involve routine unannounced inspections to monitor compliance within a range of health and safety regulations and to investigate farm accidents.

In any one year there can be between 60 and 90 investigations of incidents on farms with the remainder being unannounced inspections.

Minister Humphreys outlined the priority tasks for the HSA in relation to engagement with the farming sector during 2018.

These include:
  • Ongoing delivery of the Farm Safety Partnership Action Plan, 2016 to 2018;
  • Continuing awareness campaigns through the media, events and advertising targeted at the agricultural sector and the roll out of new TV and Radio adverts;
  • Promotion of good health for farmers;
  • Publication of new information sheets for agriculture and forestry;
  • Roll out and implementation of the revised Code of Practice on farm safety;
  • Increase take up of e-learning now available for slurry handling, tractor and machinery safety and for child safety on the farm;
  • Focusing on child safety on farms through programmes at primary and post-primary school level, letters have again been issued to over 3,000 such schools;
  • Development of further survivor stories;
  • Safety stands at major events such as BEEF 2018, Sheep 2018, Tullamore Show, and Ploughing Championships;
  • Running of a National Farm Safety Conference and a separate Forestry Safety Conference.