Farmers urged ‘not to rely on luck’ when working with machinery

Farmers have been urged “not to rely on luck” when working with machinery by the chairperson of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Farm Family and Social Affairs Committee, Caroline Farrell.

On the second day of Farm Safety Week, a special focus is being placed on machinery and transport by the IFA.

The vast majority of fatal accidents on farms involve farm vehicles or machinery, the IFA explained.

Given farmers’ regular contact with machinery, accidents can occur in a variety of ways; PTO shafts, unguarded moving parts and front loaders all pose their own risks, for example.

The IFA outlined that machinery accidents can be avoided by keeping machines in good repair, as well as ensuring that all safety equipment is fully operational.

Not taking risks when working with powerful machinery is also something that the IFA advocates.

Commenting on the topic of farm safety, the IFA’s Caroline Farrell said: “Everybody in farming knows somebody who has been injured or killed in an accident.

This Farm Safety Week we are calling on farmers not to rely on luck when working. Agricultural machinery is dangerous and can rip off a limb or kill [someone] in seconds.

“Always ensure equipment is switched off when making routine checks and always take your time to think about what you are doing and what might go wrong, as making a few simple checks could actually save a life – maybe your own.”

‘Huge safety risk’

Meanwhile, Teagasc safety specialist Dr. John McNamara outlined that a “huge safety risk” presents itself in July and into the autumn period.

This arises due to “high vehicle and machinery movement” because of harvesting activities, alongside the fact that children are on holidays from school during the summer months, Dr. McNamara added.

He appealed to farmers to drive slowly, particularly in farmyards: “A vehicle travelling at a fast walking speed (8kph) covers 2.2m/second, putting any bystander at a high fatality risk if struck.”

As well as this, the Teagasc specialist noted that 15% of farm vehicle and farm deaths in 2017 were due to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

Dr. McNamara stressed the importance of having adequate training to operate such a machine. Operators of ATVs need to be agile in order to shift their weight on slopes, so that they can stabilise the vehicle, he said.

The speeds at which ATVs are driven also need to be contained, while certified safety helmets should be worn by operators, Dr. McNamara concluded.