“The core cause of farm accidents is not machinery or livestock, it comes down to an individual decision at the time of the accident”, according to a senior inspector with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

Speaking on the Agriland livestream from the National Ploughing Championships, Pat Griffin said that in the last 10 years, the HSA has investigated 197 farm fatalities.

Farm safety is an area currently being targeted by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), as agriculture remains the most dangerous industry in Ireland.

Commenting further, Griffin said: “It is far too easy to say that farm machinery and livestock is the main cause of farm accidents, that is not the core cause.

“It always goes back to the behaviour of the individual farmers and the decisions that they make.

“When a person approaches a tractor, livestock, a job at height, it is the decision they make that determines if they will be killed, have a serious accident or injury, or do the job properly.”

He added that the only way we will be able to change the statistics is to change the individual behaviour of farmers.

Farm safety

Griffin said that the role of the HSA is to provide farmers with information that is easily accessible and understandable, so they can understand where the risks are and how they can protect themselves.

This will enable farmers to make the right decision every moment of the day on the farm, he said.

“This is what we enable by providing a risk assessment document that is very engaging.

“We’re not trying to make the farmer’s life or anyone working on the farm more difficult, we’re trying to make it easier to do, but safer, and push them towards making the right decisions.”

The senior inspector also spoke about the importance of physical and mental health.

“People going out to do a job where they are thinking about other stuff and their mind is muddled by pressures, if they haven’t been sleeping well, you’re going to make more mistakes.

“Lots of people in work today, if they make a mistake, they are not going to lose their arm or leg or potentially their life.

“But unfortunately, there are so many jobs on a farm where if you do make a mistake, the consequences can be dreadful.

“We’re trying to make safety simple, accessible and to help farmers protect themselves,” Griffin concluded.