Women have a very important role in helping to reduce farm death numbers, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

Speaking at the recent annual Listowel Food Fair Farm Seminar, Minister Coveney, said he appreciates the “big role wives, partners, mothers, and daughters” have had in advancing farm safety standards across the country.

This year, 2014, is set to become one of the most tragic years ever on Irish farms. There have been 28 farm deaths recorded on Irish farms this year, together with approximately 2,000 serious farm injuries documented.

John Hennigan from the Health and Safety Authority presented statistics underlining a crisis in safety across the farming sector. Farmers constitute just 6% of the Irish workforce, but have accounted for 60% of fatal workplace accidents in 2014, he said. To put this figure in perspective national Irish workplace figures show that:

  • 2.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers across all sectors;
  • five fatalities per 100,000 workers in the construction sector; and,
  • 14 fatalities per 100,000 workers in the farming sector.

The cause of such catastrophes seem to follow a similar pattern every year, he said, with about half of the most serious accidents caused by tractors and machinery, and a further one-in-five tragedies attributed to livestock.

The demographic most at risk are male dairy farmers over the age of 55. Overall, 50% of the victims are between 18 and 65 years of age, 32% over 65, and 18% under the age of 18.

The Minister added that there has “never been more money, more resources dedicated to raising awareness, and more inspections” channelled towards improving farm safety. Yet, he said that 2014 could be one of the “most tragic years ever” on Irish farms. Coveney encouraged all farmers to consider on-going and future TAMS programs, which provide funding for farm safety improvements.

The HSA encourages farmers to visit their website to download their practical Farm Safety – Risk Assessment document.