Pat Griffin, senior inspector with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), told AgriLand that it’s planning a mart inspection campaign for 2019.

The aim of this campaign, he said at the National Ploughing Championships, is to bring them up to the “gold standard”.

“We will be practical about it. In marts where it is difficult, we will work with them to try and bring them on.

“We are not going to be going in and laying down the law in places where it is very difficult to deal with; we will bring them along slowly.

“But it has to change. We can’t have farmers or anyone at risk at marts – whether they are workers at the marts or farmers,” he said.

Griffin noted that the HSA will work with mart managers in implementing any necessary changes.

“If we see that they are going to make reasonable steps – over a period of time – to get to that gold standard, we will work with them.”

Touching on the way in which cattle marts operate, he said: “It’s a very unnatural situation for livestock.

There’s noise. There’s generally confusion. They’re not – sometimes – with their peers that they’ve been in groups [with] for a long time, so they can get a lot more flighty and a lot more risky.

“So we’ve had to move in relation to looking at marts and what controls are within the mart. And, we are actually very, very concerned about the mixing of farmers walking around pens and workers in the mart trying to move cattle from pens to the sales ring.”

Griffin believes that mart-goers and livestock should not mix, adding: “It is something that is a known risk and it has to be managed properly.”

He added: “We are not doing it to try and make life more difficult for anyone. It’s really to make life safer for everyone in the mart and to the employees of the mart as well.”