Farm safety inspections down by over 50% in 2020

The number of farm safety inspections conducted so far in 2020 is down by more than 50% compared to the same time last year due to the impact of Covid-19, according to Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys.

Responding to a parliamentary question on the matter from Sinn Féin TD Patricia Ryan, Minister Humphreys highlighted: “The first half of 2020 has been marked significantly by the Covid-19 crisis.

“For a period from late March until May, while investigations and associated work continued, very few inspectors were carrying out routine inspections in the normal way, due the measures taken to contain the spread of the virus.”

In terms of figures, the minister said that, from January 1 until June 8, 2020, 539 farm safety inspections had taken place – this is down more than 50% on the 1,190 inspections carried out during the same time-frame in 2019.

The impact of Covid-19 was underlined by the number of inspections between March 1 and June 8, 2020, which was 59 – compared to the 705 inspections conducted during this three-month period last year.

Continuing, Minister Humphreys said:

“Over the last few weeks the inspectors of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has focused its inspections on sectors and on businesses reopening in accordance with the Government’s phased reopening of the economy with a particular emphasis on compliance issues relating to the Return to Work Safely Protocol.

Nevertheless, the agriculture sector remains a priority for the HSA and inspections are continuing in the sector.

“Currently, the number of inspectors available to carry out farm inspections as part of their inspection programme is 40.

“These inspectors are assigned inspections in several different sectors including the agricultural sector,” Minister Humphreys concluded.