Opinion

Opinion: Farm deaths will continue to happen as long as we think they won’t happen to us

This week the farming community has been rocked by three farm deaths within days of each other.

Two men died in separate accidents in Mayo and Laois while yesterday, an eight-year-old girl died on a farm in Co. Mayo.

Any loss of life on a farm is a tragic event, but the death of a child is one that lives with an entire community for decades.

The number of farm deaths has been around 20 for the past number of years, with an exception in 2014 when 30 people lost their lives on Irish farms. Farming is the most dangerous occupation, in terms of farm deaths, in Ireland and that has to change.

At the core of the issue is the attitude of farmers and those working on farms. There is no doubt that banning children from farm life, be it on a tractor or standing in a gap is not the answer. Farming life involves families and that extends to children, but it should not extend to children being exposed to risks on farms.

The oft too simple attitude that ‘it won’t happen to me’ is the downfall of too many farmers. Or, worse again, not even thinking about the potential dangers that are on farms and that every day presents dangers when working on a farm.

And it’s about limiting those dangers and the first step in this is recognising that there are dangers and then doing something about it. The Health and Safety Authority has driven a campaign to promote farm safety in recent years, as have numerous farming bodies.

But, until every farmer in the country recognises that there are dangers in their workplace, acknowledge that it could happen to them or on their farm and address these dangers, there will continue to be farm accidents and, unfortunately, deaths.