Ministers issue safety call to farmers, as tragedies mount

In light of the extraordinary and tragic number of fatal accidents that have occurred on Irish farms recently, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton and the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney have today, along with the HSA and the IFA, issued a joint call to all farmers to make safety a top priority.

Minister Bruton stated that he was shocked at the number of deaths that have occurred so far this year. “At this stage last year there had been two deaths reported in the Agriculture sector and we still ended up with sixteen people being killed in the sector during 2013. I am very concerned that already, this year, eleven people have lost their lives on farms. I am calling on all farmers and everyone involved in the industry to make safety a daily part of the working day. My department will continue to intensify our work with my colleague Minister Coveney’s department, the HSA and the Farm Safety Partnership to tackle this problem.”

Minister Coveney said that he is fully aware of the different conditions that farmers work under but death and injury are a major concern. “We are approaching a busy time for farmers with silage making about to begin. I understand the time and financial pressure that many farmers are under, many farmers work long hours alone. What good is all that hard work if an accident happens due to rushing or fatigue? The reality is, taking risks with your life and limb is never worth it and I echo Minister Bruton’s call, please farm safely every day.”

The majority of farm deaths this year have involved tractors and machinery. Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority says that he is gravely concerned at the numbers being killed and the causes. “There have been four deaths in the month of May alone. These are not just numbers, these are real people, real tragedies, real families destroyed. Every year it is the same, tractors and machinery are the main cause of death on Irish farms. The message that we want to drive home is that anywhere that man and machinery interact the potential for serious injury or death is amplified. There is a solution, action can be taken to prevent these serious and, in many cases unnecessary accidents by following guidance that we and members of the Farm Safety Partnership have produced. Always have safety in mind when working with vehicles.”

IFA President Eddie Downey said the recent spate of farm fatalities reinforces how important it is to prioritise farm safety. He has appealed to farm families to take every precaution when carrying out their work and minimise the risk on farms. “It is a busy time and silage harvesting will start in the coming weeks. I am asking everybody involved in farming to look out for each other, particularly young and old around livestock and machinery. Our message is ‘Think Safety Farm Safety’ every hour of every day.”