Farm safety: ‘It’s not about stopping but changing your practice’

Farmers have been urged to take the time to plan and address potential risks before undertaking any potentially dangerous tasks.

This appeal was made by chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority Sharon McGuinness.

Speaking on RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland this morning (Monday, July 16), McGuinness said: While the figures may show that farming is dangerous – and indeed they do – it is possible to farm safely; and this is where farmers need to make the right choice, and put safety first.”

She explained: “There are a number of key risks within farming; there’s obviously the area of child safety, there’s the whole issue of machinery – and that’s in the fatalities we’ve had this year, the fatalities have been caused by machinery.

Farmers often and do work alone, so there’s a multitude of factors there, but by planning and addressing the risks in advance before you do some of this work it is possible to do farming safely.

McGuinness also addressed the trends seen in recent fatalities, highlighting that older farmers are most at risk and should pay particular attention to possible hazards in farming.

“Certainly in this year’s fatalities, and as we’ve seen in previous years as well, quite a high number of farmers over the age of 60 and indeed even over the age of 70 have been injured and killed, and that is a very worrying and serious fact.

“Farmers at that age group obviously are more vulnerable.

“Perhaps they’re getting into accidents because they’re not as mobile as they were, so we really need that group and those around them, their family or friends, to work with them to address how they can farm safely.”

Commenting on Farm Safety Week 2018, which gets underway throughout this week, McGuinness said: “It’s an initiative we’re happy to get involved with; we’ll be sending out a range of advice during the week – we think it’s a good idea to show farmers that there is good practice, you can do farming safely.

The positives to show that it’s not about stopping anything to do with your farming but it’s about perhaps changing your practice.

“We know that the awareness of the dangers is high out there among the farming community, and we’re really asking them to change the way that they operate, and the way they farm for them to internalise and take on board the idea that safety has to come first.”