Farm Safety is a topic that gets plenty of media coverage and you might be complacent and say ‘I’ve heard all that before, I know the risks’.

But let’s take a different approach. We’re in January 2015 – it’s a month of New Year’s resolutions. Make farm safety number 1. Ask yourself ‘what can I do every day to make 2015 a safer farming year?’

Plan to slow down this year and avoid rushing. January can be a quiet month on the farm. It’s a good month to sit down and plan for the year ahead. Planning for calving and lambing, what needs to be put in place so that it goes smooth – is your yard/shed lighting ok?

Plan your fertiliser purchase, slurry spreading, proposed animal turnout dates, silage cutting dates. When might you take holidays? These are just some of the big events to think of and can be stressful times when they arrive.

Planning and preparing for these events in advance will allow you to be more organised when the time comes, less likely to rush or make mistakes and avoid accidents. Review your Farm Safety Code of Practice Risk Assessment Document, is it up-to-date? Now is the time to act.

Children on the farm – Are they visible, especially in winter? Get them into the habit of wearing a high visibility vest or jacket every time they are out on the farm, particularly in the evenings.

Children love to help out on farm, feeding baby lambs for example. Alert them to the dangers around them, teach them to act responsibly. Point out to children that the farmyard is a workplace and not a playground. Lead by good example – use of protective clothing, exercising caution, respect for animals and machinery. Watch out when moving bales.

Most importantly, children should always be supervised by an adult when out on the farm.

Health and hygiene are part of staying safe on the farm. Remind children to wash their hands well when they come in from the farm. Teach them about preventing spread of disease and germs on farm. Alert them to the possibilities of picking up infection such as Orf or Ringworm where applicable.

By Sinéad Devaney, Teagasc Adviser, Galway/Clare Regional Unit