Farm safety conference aims to tackle the key causes of accidents

The key theme of an upcoming farm safety conference – which is being hosted by FBD Insurance and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) – is ‘Safeguarding the Future of Farming’.

Representing between 5% and 6% of the Irish workforce, the agriculture sector often accounts for up to 50% of work-related deaths, according to the HSA.

Last year, a total of 47 workplace fatalities were recorded; these included 24 farming-related deaths – with 14 fatalities in the age group of 65 or older.

This conference – which is scheduled to take place on Friday, April 20 – aims to tackle the key causes of these accidents in a constructive way, the organisers added.

Lyons Research Farm in Co. Kildare, which is the teaching and research facility operated by University College Dublin (UCD), will host the farm safety event.


The morning session comprises of keynote speeches, presentations and a panel discussion. This will be followed by an afternoon session with four practical farm safety demonstrations.

These demonstrations will focus on topics including: machinery and the power take-off (PTO) shaft; working at heights; tractors and farm vehicles; and working with livestock.

These practical demonstrations – which are being coordinated by Dr. Aoife Osborne, FBD lecturer in Farm Health and Safety at UCD – reflect the HSA’s findings on the main causes of farm deaths in Ireland from 2008 to 2017, during which time 210 people were killed.

In that 10-year period, tractors and other farm vehicles were responsible for 64 deaths; machinery caused the deaths of 42 people; livestock was responsible for 28 deaths; and 22 people died as a result of falls from heights.

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle, will officially open the conference.

It will feature addresses from: Irish MEP and First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness; chairman of FBD Insurance, Liam Herlihy; and senior inspector with the HSA, Pat Griffin.

The event will be moderated by RTE broadcaster and CountryWide presenter, Damien O’Reilly.

The future of farm safety will also be represented by award-winning innovators Alexander Brady and Jack Brady, from Colaiste Chraobh Abhann in Co. Wicklow, who won the ABP Farm Safety Award at the 2018 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

These students will be joined by Jack Nagle, from Killorglin Community College in Co. Kerry, who won the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena People’s Choice Awards at the 2017 National Ploughing Championships.

‘Something must be done’

At the launch of the conference, the chairman of FBD Insurance Liam Herlihy said that the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities happening on Irish farms every year cannot go on.

He explained that FBD Insurance – through its Farm Protect programme – is working hard to reduce accidents on farms every day.

We strongly encourage farmers to adopt best practice today and to set a good example for the next generation of Irish farmers.

“Currently, there are more than 2.6 million drivers on Irish roads, and 158 people lost their lives in 2017.

“When you take into consideration that there are fewer than 140,000 active farmers in Ireland today and that we lost 24 people in farm-related accidents in 2017, it should be clear to us all that something must be done.

“FBD Insurance is delighted to support this conference and we hope that it will be an important moment for farm safety in the future,” he said.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle (centre), will officially open the conference

Meanwhile, senior inspector the HSA Pat Griffin outlined that the way to safeguard the future of farming is to make Irish farms the safest in Europe.

We are already European leaders when it comes to producing quality food, now is the time for us to lead in relation to safety.

“There are some fantastic innovators partaking in the conference, so the knowledge and ability is there; we must bring that willingness to farm safely to every farmyard in the country,” he concluded.