A serious farm accident has occurred with a farmer in his 80s seriously injured by a tractor.

The man is believed to have been struck by a tractor yesterday (Thursday) afternoon in the farm accident near Kilbaha on the Loop Head Peninsula.

The man is believed to be in a stable, but serious condition, in hospital.

It comes as the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is reducing the number of farm inspections it will carry out to 2,300 in 2015, despite the sector having an 87% increase in farm deaths in 2014 with farm deaths accounting for 55% of all work-related deaths.

Machinery is the biggest killer on Irish farms and a significant cause of farming-related injuries.

Farm deaths increased by 87% in 2014, with 30 people killed compared to 16 in 2013. For the fifth year running, the agriculture sector has recorded the highest number of fatalities, representing roughly 55% of all work-related deaths in 2014.

Last year, 30 people were killed in farm accidents, including one on New Year’s Eve night.

The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney introduced a Farm Safety Scheme last year and over 6,000 farmers applied for grant aid to improve the safety on their farms.

Cork farmers accounted for the highest number of applications to the Farm Safety Scheme, according to figures released by the Department of Agriculture.

With 821 applications Cork had by far the largest amount at 13%, with Galway having the next highest at 573 or 9% of the total 6,299 applications.

Minister Coveney said farm safety is a critical issue facing farming today and is something that he is seriously concerned about.

He also said the Department of Agriculture included a Farm Safety Leaflet in the information packs being issued currently to over 130,000 farmers on how to prevent a farm accident and farm more safely. The Department will also be using its text messaging service to issue safety messages to farmers on how to prevent a farm accident at critical times of the year.

According to Teagasc and the HSA, the collapse of the construction industry saw more people between the ages of 45 and 64 return to farming and, in turn, more people die in farm deaths from within this age group.

The research shows that farm deaths among farmers between 45 and 64 years of age are 57% above the long run average for this group.

This is the equivalent of three extra deaths per year of farmers in this age group.

The Teagasc research found that fatal farm accident data also indicates a strong behavioural dimension to farm workplace deaths particularly those associated with tractors and machinery, livestock and falls particularly from heights.

Teagasc National Health and Safety Officer, Mr John McNamara, who collaborated in the study, stated that its findings are in line with international trends which indicate that safety behaviour is a factor in 90% of accidents and that farm death rates increase with increasing age, particularly from 45 years of age onwards.