Senior Agriculture and Forestry Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) Pat Griffin has told Agriland that the EU does not a have cohesive policy when it comes to grappling with the ‘carnage’ that continues to take place on European farms.

“One thousand farmers are killed in work related incidents across the EU each year,” he said. “The reality is that the EU has no strategic policy in relation to occupational safety at all. This is a situation that must be changed.”

Pat Griffin also said that the campaign to reduce accidents on Irish farms must be taken to the next level. And this could mean linking farm safety inspections to the cross compliance measures put in place to monitor producer eligibility for Single Farm Payment support. But this would be far from a negative scenario as Pat envisages farmers attaining high health and safety standards being preferentially rewarded under a future CAP support scheme

He continued: “I know this type of approach will not go down well with the likes of the Irish Farmers Association. But, in my opinion, there is now a need to make on-farm occupational safety an issue that can have a direct bearing on the amount of money in a farmer’s pocket.

“The current system of farm safety inspections, which are essentially advisory in nature, will only get us so far. We need to develop a much more proactive approach when it comes to preventing accidents and saving lives on Irish farms.”

Pat Griffin went on to make the point that he hopes to discuss these ideas with colleagues in Northern Ireland in the very near future. He also mindful of the fact that with the silage season just around the corner, the risk of machinery related accidents taking place will increase accordingly.

“This is particularly the case where older farmers are concerned. They do not have the same reflexes and response times as would have been the case in the past,” he stressed.

“Every farm accident can be avoided. I am aware of the time pressures on farmers and contractors at this time of the year. But I would encourage everyone involved with all farm-related activities to take the extra few seconds required to check that all equipment is fit for purpose and that they have thought through the various aspects of the jobs they are undertaking. Every life is precious.”