Slurry cages will be eligible for grant aid under the next Farm Safety Scheme, according to Dr Robert Leonard a Department of Agriculture, Safety Inspector who spoke at Seanad a recent hearing on farm safety.

Slurry cages are designed to reduce the risk to farmer and contractor safety whilst agitating open slurry pits.

According to the HSA slurry presents two particular safety and health problems – drowning and gas poisoning.

However, it says drowning is by far the most common cause of death involving slurry with children and the elderly  at particular risk.

In the period 2000-2010, 30% of child fatal accidents on farms were caused by drowning in slurry or water. In the same period 8% of deaths to elderly farmers were caused by drowning.

A new farm safety scheme is set to be opened this year, subject to approval of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme.

The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, said farm safety is a critical issue facing farming today and is something that he is seriously concerned about.

The Minister said that farm safety been identified as a priority area for investment under TAMS II and it is proposed that a new Farm Safety Scheme will be introduced in 2015, subject to EU Commission approval of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme.

The current Farm Safety Scheme which was introduced in October 2014 to take advantage of available funds under the old 2007-2013 Rural Development Programme has been designed to overcome some of the particular hazards which may be present on farms.

A total of €12.2m has been allocated to this scheme and 6,299 applications for aid were received before the final closing date in January.