Livestock are getting more aggressive and unpredictable, according to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

Whereas farmyard fatalities are well documented, the HSA says it recognises that they don’t have as good a handle as they would like on farmyard injuries. They do know that 2,000 farmers have to attend hospital Accident & Emergency wards over the year as a consequence of mishaps on the farm.

Some key risk areas highlighted include:

  • The HSA is noting more and more problems with livestock according to Hennigan who said that livestock are getting more aggressive and unpredictable and tasks as simple as tagging a recently born calf can prove dangerous in the presence of an over-protective cow.
  • It is seeing ‘umpteen problems’ with round bales, and advised farmers to evaluate their personal safety when stacking, de-stacking and opening round bales. Five deaths involving round bales have been recorded in 2014.
  • Farmers are also advised to recognise the potential of tractor accidents, even when vehicles are stationary. Faulty or poor maintenance on tractor handbrakes is contributing to two-to-three fatal accidents annually. On a related matter, three catastrophic misfortunes have also been recorded with exploding tyres on farms this year.
  • As we enter into a busy Christmas period and upcoming calving season, the HSA said that farers need to remember that the chances of accidents increase when they are rushing, are tired, or are simply hungry and working with lower energy levels.

Mr Hennigan also said that farmers might often have a tendency to give other tasks priority over their own personal safety, be it working with livestock or machinery.

On this point, he acknowledged the prominent role of women on the farm, stating that in many cases its is the farmer’s wife that is often the voice of reason, and the driving force behind improving safety on the farm.

He was speaking at the recent annual Listowel Food Fair Farm Seminar.