Transport is the theme for day four of Farm Safety Week with tractors and moving vehicles having claimed the lives of 30 farm workers in the past five years, according to the HSE Health and Safety in Agriculture Report published in October 2015.

Today the campaign focuses on highlighting the issues surrounding transport and how to prevent transport related accidents on the farm.

Speaking at the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers panel discussion on the second day of the Livestock Event at the NEC in Birmingham, IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy was keen to point out the obvious benefits of farm safety education.

A lack of knowledge of safety regulations and personal safety practices at all experience levels puts farm workers at serious risk of debilitating injury or worse.

By increasing farmers knowledge and awareness of safety in all aspects of agriculture, they can begin to challenge, prevent and stop unsafe habits and practices.

According to Kennedy, farms have always been hard, physically demanding workplaces, but in the early 20th century, safety concerns evolved when tractors began replacing horses as the main farmer’s aid.

David Tarpey’s Story

Galway farmer David Tarpey describes how a casual decision to borrow a tractor from a neighbour has left him in a wheelchair and changed his life forever.

David, a member of The Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA), has a small patch of land adjacent to his home while his main farm is located some 10 miles away.

He had left his tractor on the main farm as it was inconvenient to drive it over the 10 miles back home. On the day of the accident he decided to spread fertiliser on the small patch of land close to his house using an old tractor borrowed from a neighbour.

This particular tractor was quite old and, as it turned out, did not have a correctly functioning handbrake. David describes how he was dismounting from the tractor to open a gate into a field when as he got off the tractor it jerked forward resulting in him being stuck by the rear wheel.

He was eventually found by his neighbour lying on the ground unable to move. David suffered a serious spinal injury with the result that his lower body is now completely paralysed.

He continues to work as an Agricultural Consultant and stresses the importance of maintaining farm machinery, particularly tractors, to reduce risks on the farm.

IFA Farm Family Chairperson Maura Canning echoed David Tarpey’s advice to think twice and use a little common sense when driving a tractor or operating machinery.

Unfortunately most farm safety issues are common place but they aren’t common practice and this is why initiatives like Farm Safety Week are so important. Bringing the whole industry together, for even one week each year, to share a common message means that we are doing something to address this poor safety record.

“David is a very brave man in many aspects. His experience demonstrates that the fallout from a farming accident is broader than you might think. As well as the victim’s pain and suffering; there can be a significant economic cost to the farm.”

This is why this year Farm Safety Week is urging farmers to consider “Who would fill your Boots?” if they were to be affected by a serious injury.

Farm Safety Week – Top Tips

  • Safe stop – the most important safety action of all.
  • Safe vehicle, safe site, safe driver.
  • Safe on road, safe off road – the standards of vehicle maintenance for both is the same.
  • Check those breaks, especially handbrakes and on trailers.