Farm accidents to hospitalise 2,000 farmers this year

Farmers are more likely to be killed on-farm than on the roads, according to Eddie Wall, an inspector with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

Speaking at the LIC Ireland monitor farm open day on Joe Kirwan’s farm in Co. Tipperary, Wall discussed the frightening statistics of work-place fatalities in Ireland and how dangerous farming really is.

“This year, so far, we have had 15 farm deaths and we’re only at the beginning of July,” Wall began.

There has been 30 work-place fatalities so far this year; half of these have occurred in the agricultural sector.

Wall explained across all industries there is an average 2.5 deaths per every 100,000 workers.

“Construction has an average of five deaths per every 100,000 workers. Agriculture has, on average, 18 deaths per year for every 100,000 workers.

“2,000 farmers, on average, will be treated in hospital this year as a result of a farm accident; but the perception is – it won’t happen to me,” Wall said.

These figures show the need for farmers to change their perceptions of farm safety and understand that farming is a dangerous business.

57% of the deaths in agriculture occur on dairy farms.

“1% of the working population accounts for 40% of all fatal accidents at work,” Wall stated.

Tractors and machinery are the major causes of farm deaths in Ireland, accounting for over 50% of fatalities. Livestock, slurry gases and falls from heights are other major causes mentioned by Wall.

“If you ask any farmer, they’ll all tell you PTO shafts should be guarded, but we’re still finding them open on machines.

Farm machinery doesn’t care whether it’s a bale of silage or a human limb.

Survivors of farm accidents talk about how quickly things happen; in a blink of an eye they have lost limbs.

67% of those injured on the farm are unable to work for between 10 and 100 days. “Who’s going to run the farm while you’re not there?” Wall questioned.

“Three-quarters of all farm accidents involve the farmer themselves. The next 20% are direct family members.

“The problem is people reckon it’s not going to happen on my farm,” Wall concluded.