So far this year, 20 people have died in accidents on Irish farms. In 2011, 22 people died on farms. In 2012 that number was 21 and last year, 16 people died on Irish farms.
Today, at the Health and Safety Authority’s conference on farm safety, Denis O’Hora, a psychologist from NUI Galway, made the interesting fact that it’s not just stressful situations, or when we’re rushing, that accidents happen. And that many of us can be ‘judgy’ when we hear of farm accidents. ‘Sure we wouldn’t have done that, or used that piece of equipment’. He then asked the room at the conference who had driven to the conference. Most put up their hands. He then asked who had broken the speed limit on the way. Cue some coughing and shuffling of chairs as most of us looked, with more guilt than judgement, at the few who were brave enough to put up their hands.
But, it’s when you hear the individual details and stories that it brings such statistics closer to home. That’s why we ran some of the details of the farm deaths that have occurred this year.
Brian Rohan is to be applauded for standing up and speaking about his situation – where his father died on the family farm just two years ago. And it’s a story every farmer should hear and listen to. He really brought home the message that yes farm accidents can, and do, happen to anyone.
The first step in preventing farm accidents is to realise that it can happen to you. It only takes a few seconds extra to be cautious and think about the situations you are dealing with. Farms are no place for children to be let run around freely. And they’re no place for farmers to think they are immune. It only takes one slip of a machine, or one wrong footing to die on farm. It only takes a few seconds more to ensure the handbrake is applied properly, to put the controls in neutral, to stop the engine and to remove the key. They are seconds that could save your, or a loved one’s life.
It’s easy to think it won’t happen to you. Yet, until each and every farmer accepts that it could happen to them and acts as if it might happen to them, then farm deaths will stop.