HSA to begin 200-farm inspection ‘blitz’ from Monday

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is undertaking a two-week inspection ‘blitz’ campaign to highlight on-going safety issues on farms.

Starting this coming Monday, July 13, inspectors will visit farms nationwide with a view of highlighting a number of safety issues in order to reduce fatalities and serious incidents.

200 inspections

The second week of the campaign coincides with Farm Safety Week, the authority noted.

Approximately 200 farm inspections, over the two-week period, will focus on tractor, machinery and quad bike safety.

Between 2010 and 2019, there were 65 deaths due to tractors and farm vehicles, while there were 39 farm machinery deaths.

Tractors and machinery account for the highest proportion of farm deaths and injuries in Ireland, with elderly farmers and children at particular risk.

14 fatalities so far in 2020

There have been 14 fatalities so far in 2020, three involving children and nine involving those over the age of 65.

A large proportion of all workplace fatalities occur in agriculture, even though a small proportion (5%) of the national workforce is employed in the sector.

Research indicates that, in general, farmers’ attitudes to safety only really changes after a serious injury or death has occurred or has been highlighted, the HSA says.

The authority stressed that farmers must take responsibility and proactively implement prevention measures, which include having the necessary training, good maintenance programmes and safe work practices in place in order to avoid fatal and serious injuries occurring on their farms.

The main causes of deaths involving farm machinery include being crushed under a machine part, caught in a machine mechanism and crushed between vehicles.

Inspection blitz

Commenting on the need for this blitz, HSA chief inspector Mark Cullen said that these specific areas being targeted pose the greatest risk to farmers, workers and farm families.

“Vehicle or machinery injuries are preventable if the correct safety procedures are put in place and observed.

Our inspection blitz will help raise awareness and focus farmers’ attention on the importance of managing safety on their farms. Lives and livelihoods are ruined each year and I am urging all those involved in farming to ensure that safety is their number one priority before using tractors, vehicles and machinery.

“Our mission is to regulate, promote and improve the safety, health and welfare of people at work and those affected by work activities and this two-week inspection blitz will highlight areas where improvement is needed, which will invariably help to save lives,” Cullen concluded.