A collaborative farm safety event is set to run at Gurteen Agricultural College tomorrow (Saturday, April 28), with proceedings getting underway at 12:00pm.
The college – which is located near Ballingarry, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary – will play host to ‘The Farm Safety Experience’.
The event will involve participation from Teagasc, Gurteen Agricultural College, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Arrabawn Co-op, FRS Networks, An Garda Siochana, Embrace FARM and Agri Aware.
Speaking to AgriLand, the chair of the North Tipperary branch of the IFA, Imelda Walsh, explained that the event is targeted at the entire family.
“We want to make it a day for the whole family. Children are like sponges and they will take home what they learn and will be more inclined to ask their parents questions.
Farm safety is an issue which we seriously need to address. If tomorrow’s event saves just one life, all of the work that has gone into organising it will have been worthwhile.
“Sometimes we just become overly familiar with our own farm yards and we just don’t see the dangers that are there,” she said.
Last year, 24 farm-related deaths were recorded on Irish farms – with 14 of these being over 65. Walsh feels that education is still the key to tackling this issue.
Walsh outlined that tomorrow’s event will include a variety of demonstrations, focusing on: safe cattle handling, slurry gas; and operating quads.
A number of people will also share their own respective stories with those present. These will include: Peter Gohery, a farm accident survivor; George Graham, a sheep farmer and shearer who struggled with his mental health; as well as Diane Banville and Angela Hogan, who both lost loved ones as a result of farming-related accidents.
As tractors have gotten bigger and bigger in recent years, a demonstration focusing on their visibility and blind spots will feature at the event.
Meanwhile, Walsh added that a number of presentations will speak about the practicalities of dealing with the challenges that are presented in the aftermath of a farm fatality.
These will will include topics like who will take over the running of the farm, as well as the legalities that have to be dealt with in the months after the accident has occurred.
On top of all this, both Agri Aware and AgriKids will be in attendance to communicate the message of farm safety across to the younger generation – with the help of a farm model display and a pet farm.
National schools have also been asked to participate in a colouring competition, with Arrabawn Co-op sponsoring a prize fund of €500 for competitors.
A ‘difficult’ few months
Walsh also pointed out that the last few months have been particularly tough on farmers.
“There’s been very little respite for farmers in recent months. Some farmers have found themselves in a very lonely place, but it’s important for them to see that they’re not alone,” she said.
Organisers are hoping for a day of fine weather for the event, but they added that the facilities in Gurteen Agricultural College will provide plenty of shelter from the elements to allow the event to run successfully regardless.