New guidance on “Safety for Seasonal Workers in Horticulture” has been published by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) today (Thursday, June 10).

As most workplace injuries and ill health are “foreseeable and preventable”, these guidelines will “help employers and employees identify hazards in horticultural workplaces – and reduce the associated risks”, the authority says.

A recent Central Statistics Office (CSO) labour force survey found that 75% of employees working in horticulture in Ireland were non-Irish nationals.

To cater for this large section of the horticultural workforce, the HSA has provided this guide in 11 languages, including: Irish; Belarusian; Bulgarian; Lithuanian; Latvian; Portuguese; Polish; Romanian; Russian; Thai; and Ukrainian.

The guidance, which is now available on the HSA website, highlights the main hazards for horticultural workers which includes:

  • Untrained/unauthorised drivers;
  • Poorly maintained tractors, vehicles and machinery (for example brakes, mirrors and steps);
  • Incorrect manual handling techniques;
  • Unsafe work at heights; and
  • Slips, trips and falls.

Commenting, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail Damien English said:

“All workers have the right to have their safety, health and welfare protected while carrying out their duties in the workplace.

“The Health and Safety Authority’s guidance is a welcomed resource for seasonal workers including those for who English is not their first language.

“Seasonal workers in horticulture face many risks such as working around tractors, trailers and machinery or working with chemicals and pesticides.

“I would encourage employers in this sector to avail of the guidance and to provide it to all their workers,” the minister said.

Mark Cullen, assistant chief executive at the Health and Safety Authority, said:

“The HSA aims to ensure that all workers in horticulture have a clear understanding of the risks in their workplace and the actions required to avoid workplace injury and ill health.

“The reduction of workplace injuries and fatalities in all sectors remains our priority and the authority will continue to work with employers and employees on preventative measures.

“These guidelines will not only serve as a useful resource for those non-Irish national employees, but also to all working in the industry,” he added.

The HSA guidance for Safety for Seasonal Workers in Horticulture is available to download from the HSA website here.