Minister of State with responsibility for farm safety Martin Heydon is urging farmers to keep safety to the forefront of their minds as farm activity picks up in the coming months, especially where heavy machinery is concerned.

Speaking during the bank holiday weekend, Minister Heydon asked farmers and everyone visiting the countryside to be extra vigilant during the summer months.

“Summer is one of the busiest times of year on farms. It is important that, as school holidays begin and the countryside gets busier, safety is foremost in everyone’s mind,” he said.

With a notable increase in the number of tractors and large machinery moving on public roads, the minister reminded farmers and contractors of the dangers around activities such as silage making and slurry spreading.

“The Irish countryside is a wonderful resource on our doorsteps. It is great to see people enjoying the beautiful scenery, fresh air and the many amenities,” he remarked.

However, Minister Heydon called on those who enter agricultural land for leisure purposes to be mindful of the work farmers will be undertaking this time of year.

“I would urge visitors to be conscious of agricultural activities at this time of year and to be accommodating to farmers,” he stressed.

“Walkers, cyclists, motorists and horse riders taking advantage of the fine weather may not be aware of the risks posed by machinery.”

In terms of the responsibilities on farmers, the minister called on them to check that they have good lines of sight while accessing public roads from fields and yards.

He noted that tractors with front loaders pose a particular danger, and called on farmers to use warning signs and cones on road verges at entrances to alert other road users of machinery moving in the area.

“Any debris or soil brought onto a public road by machinery should be removed as soon as possible as it could cause a vehicle to lose control,” Minister Heydon said.

He also urged caution around livestock.

“Farm animals are not pets and fields with livestock should be avoided. Dogs should always be on a lead so that livestock or wildlife are not disturbed,” he urged.

Concluding, the minister said: “If we all work together with patience and cooperation, we can help ensure a safe summer for all.”