Some 57% of farm accidents are on dairy farms, John McNamara of Teagasc has said, so if you work on a dairy farm, your chances of having a farm accident are higher than farmers in other enterprises

McNamara was speaking at the All-Island Farm Safety Conference in Monaghan recently.

The majority of accidents happen involving machinery, with six of the 15 farming-related deaths in Ireland this year involving machinery.

The next common cause of death is livestock (4) followed by drowning (involving slurry).

Eight of the deaths this year have been of farmers over the age of 60, three deaths have been between 40 and 59 and four of the deaths have been of children aged between two and 25.

Counties Monaghan, Cork and Wexford have each had two farm deaths this year, figures from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) show.

Kildare, Limerick, Offaly, Roscommon and Tipperary are the only counties that haven’t had any farm deaths this year.

In recent years, 20 people, on average, have been killed each year in farm accidents. In the last decade there has been 195 farming fatalities.

Patterns in farm accidents

The majority of farm accidents happen between nine and six in the day with the most happening between 11 and 12 o’clock, McNamara has said.

After studying the patterns of farm accidents, he said that there are few accidents between one and two o’clock, which he attributed to most farmers taking a lunch break at that time.

“There are very few accidents before nine in the morning; despite a farmers day beginning earlier. This may indicate that tasks with risks are not undertaken earlier in the day,” he said.

McNamara said that this also suggested that farmers are more alert and nourished early in the day.

Another pattern was the day of the week. Most accidents happen on a Friday, then Saturday, then Sunday. Tuesday and Wednesday were the days with less accidents.

Looking at the months of the year and accident frequency, June and July are the two that stand out with the most accidents.

Then there is a fall and an increase again in January and March. Farmers get busy and accidents increase.

“It’s about managing work so that farmers don’t get overloaded. Between 1993 and 2014, last year had the highest number of deaths,” he said.

Age is also a major factor in farm accidents, the highest amount of fatalities was in the 55 to 59 year-old category.

“There’s an increasing number of farmers in the 45-64 year-old category that are causing an upsurge in accidents.

“This increased number could be following the impact of the recession or it could also be because of increased succession,” McNamara said.

90% of farm accidents involve an ‘unsafe act’.

To date in 2015, there have been 15 people killed in farm accidents in the Republic of Ireland with four deaths in Northern Ireland.

Farmers and safety professionals from both sides of the border shared ideas and prevention strategies on how to best reduce injury and death on farms.