A renewed emphasis on farm safety by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has been welcomed by the world’s largest professional safety and health organisation.

The HSA has announced it is to consider prosecution on a case-by-case basis under certain circumstances following a farm inspection.

It says it has had to review its approach to enforcement in the farming sector as a result of the high number of deaths this year, particularly involving children and young people.

Twenty-five people have died in accidents in the agricultural sector in Ireland so this year, this includes five children.

The number of deaths to date this year is 56% higher than the total for the whole of 2013, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) in Ireland which has offered its support to the HSA’s new position, if it helps to make farms safer and saves lives.

Wexford based IOSH Vice President Declan Gibney, said it is clear that farming organisations generally feel enforcement is not the answer because of the nature of Irish farms being typically family owned and operated.

“While this change in approach by the HSA may cause some unease across the agricultural sector, it is clear that the present approach is not working as we are not at the point where the number of deaths is starting to fall.

“We are supportive of this change if it will save lives.”

He said the IOSH Ireland Branch has been recently discussing how it and its 1,900 members can support the agricultural industry in order to improve safety for workers, their families and farm visitors. This may be through research, training initiatives or other appropriate support measures that enhance the work of HSA, he said.