Farm Safety Week aims to make unsafe practices ‘socially unacceptable’
Today marks the start of the seventh annual Farm Safety Week. The message for this year’s campaign is: ‘Save Lives. Think Safety – Farm Safely.’
The initiative is led by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and – according to a statement – aims to reduce the number of accidents on farms and bring about a change in culture that makes unsafe practices socially unacceptable.
The statement noted that farming continues to have one of the poorest safety records of any sector in Ireland.
Last year, 15 people lost their lives in farm accidents and 12 people have lost their lives so far in 2019.
Reacting to these figures, IFA president, Joe Healy, said: “The statistics are stark, but statistics don’t tell the whole story – they don’t tell you about the devastating impact a farm fatality has on families and communities or the impact a farm accident can have on the rest of your life or your ability to run the farm.
Understanding the risks on and around a farm operation makes it easier to avoid dangers, and makes accidents less likely.
“However, all too often farmers do not recognise the risks on their farms, which makes it difficult to manage the problem.
“That is why in 2018 IFA appointed a farm health and safety executive to implement a pilot farmer-to-farmer peer learning initiative at branch level and to advise farmers about potential risks and educate them to become safety ambassadors within their communities.”
The chief executive of the HSA, Sharon McGuinness, said: “The statistics show that farming is still the most dangerous sector, but this doesn’t have to be the case if appropriate tractor and machinery maintenance is carried out along with the operators receiving the necessary training.”
The director of Teagasc, Gerry Boyle, said: “Teagasc strongly supports the farm safety week.
Every season presents its own challenges on the farm. Many farmers think ‘farm safety last’ rather than ‘farm safety first’, but most accidents are avoidable.
“Simple factors such as habit, haste, fatigue, and improperly maintained machinery contribute to this perfect storm.
“This Farm Safety Week, we hope that by hearing the stories of other farmers who have had personal experience of farm accidents, we can get farmers of all ages to realise that this week, and every week, farm safety is a lifestyle.”