Farmers need to improve their slurry handling facilities, HSA figures show

Farmers need to improve their slurry handling facilities with only 57% of farms being compliant with the requirements in 2015, figures from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) show.

Despite the HSA saying that it would be reducing the number of inspections in 2015 to 2,300 it actually increased the number to 2,837.

Some 57% of farms inspected were compliant with the slurry handling facilities last year, an increase to 55% from 2014.

The next area farmers were least compliant with was having safe facilities for calving cows, with 58% being compliant in 2015.

Some 64% of farms were compliant with having tractor handbrakes in serviceable condition, the HSA figure show.

The highest level of compliance on farms was when it came to having a safe secure play area for children. Some 82% of farms were compliant in this area.

Some 82% of farms were compliant with having the adequate provision for elderly farmers in farming activity, up from 69% in 2014.

When it came to being compliant with the action list of hazards in the Code of Practice/Safety Statement, 78% of farms were compliant. This was an increase from the 59% that were compliant in 2014.

Enforcement was taken by the HSA in relation to safety guards on PTO shafts, O-Guards on machinery and U-Guards on tractors in 29% of cases in 2015 and 23% of cases in 2014.

The HSA says that there is some evidence that dairy farms are having more accidents than other types of farms.

There are factors such as long working hours, working with animals, machinery, slurry, etc that contribute to making dairy farming more hazardous than other types, it says.

The latest research from the HSA shows that in 2007 over half (57%) of farm fatal accidents occurred on dairy farms.

At that time dairy farms only accounted for 17% of farms, it says.

When it comes to under-reporting in the agriculture sector, on average there are roughly 100 non-fatal agriculture related injuries reported to the HSA each year (any work-related injury that results in three or more days out of work is reportable).

However, the Teagasc national farm survey carried out in 2011 would indicate that there could be up to 3,000 of these injuries occurring each year.