Video: Innovative Tipperary students launch farm safety video and €5,000 competition

A group of young farmers – and transition year students of St. Joseph’s CBS in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary – are on a mission to encourage their generation to “open your eyes to farm safety”.

Patrick Fogarty, Jack Gleeson, Michael Ryan, Paul Seymour and Patrick Quigley (all of whom are just 16 years of age) – along with their teacher Paul Butler – have produced a practical farm safety video to “simply help save lives” on Irish farms.

Inspired by personal experiences and from hearing personal stories on the importance of farm safety, the students are also launching a competition in conjunction with the video – with a prize fund of €5,000 up for grabs (see details below).

The initiative – which is supported by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), Embrace Farm and with significant input from farm safety advocate Peter Gohery, who has shared his survivor story with the school in recent years – features the five students addressing, assessing and overcoming a number of unforeseen dangers on farm.

The detailed footage – which was shot on the students’ home farms – depicts the story of a ‘farm safety unaware farmer’ and a ‘farm safety aware farmer’ – with the latter individual making the ‘unaware farmer’ conscious of a number of near accidents; and showing the ‘unaware farmer’ the safe way to carry out the associated tasks.

The HSA’s farm risk assessment manual is also used by the ‘farm safety aware farmer’ in the video.

Competition details

As outlined above, the IFA has rowed in behind the St. Joseph’s CBS students on their farm safety video and competition by offering a significant cash prize fund of €5,000.

To be in with a chance, participants are being asked to simply watch the video and answer the five questions in this questionnaire.

The cash-pot will be split among 10 winners who will receive €500 each.

The winners of the questionnaire will then be randomly selected from a draw at a later date. Stay tuned for more details on this.

Motivation

As mentioned above, the students’ hard-hitting message – which was filmed over the course of last year – comes not only from a practical standpoint, but they also have first-hand experience of the devastating impact that a farm accident can have on a family, friends and the wider community.

Over the last couple of years the students – and the school – have been incredibly proactive in raising awareness of farm safety. They ran a hugely successful tractor run fundraiser last November in aid of Embrace Farm (the bereavement support group); plus, they have since posted a series of short videos on farm safety to the school’s social media channels.

Their teacher Paul Butler, who is also a farmer, explains that their passion for the subject emerged as these young men came to terms with the loss of their dear friend – Patrick McCormack – to a farm accident in January, 2018.

“A 15-year-old boy was killed on a farm and he was close friends to Paul Seymour, one of the five boys involved in our farm safety campaign; Patrick also had a cousin in the school.

“Seeing first-hand the effect it had on the boys was enough for me to help them in any way possible; and to help minimise farm accidents accruing in our area in the future. Patrick’s death was a driving factor in the whole farm safety campaign and we dedicate the video to him,” said Paul.

A message from the students

Reflecting on the video – which was supervised at all times by their teacher – student Paul Seymour said: “I personally have had the experience of losing a good young friend, Patrick McCormack, in a farm accident. So, I’m aware of the impact of that loss. It made me aware of the importance of farm safety at all times.

“In the words of Brian Rohan [of Embrace Farm] – who lost his father in a farm accident – ‘you have to do all you can when you’re down in the yard that day to make sure you get back safe to your family that night’,” he said.

Fellow student Michael Ryan said: “We now have created a farm safety video showing a lot of farm dangers and we’re trying to make farmers aware of the danger they are in every day. Farming is the most dangerous workplace; it records the most deaths every year.

“Our video is there to try and save lives – that is the main reason we all got involved,” said Michael.

Student Jack Gleeson said: “We learned a lot about safety on the farm that you would take for granted. Even though you do the job quite often, you would overlook a lot of the hazards.

“Peter Gohery’s speeches and the farm safety video really reminds me about the hazards. I hope the video brings the same awareness to others as it has to the five of us and our school,” he said.

Student Patrick Fogarty said: “Farming accidents have affected a lot of people in our school. This encouraged us to take this further than a tractor run. Our mission is to show young people the dangers on farms,” he said.

Finally, student Patrick Quigley added: “We realised that something had to be done about this – sooner rather than later.

“The work that Embrace Farm does to enhance safety on farms is untold and they were a pleasure to work with throughout our tractor run fundraiser.

“And Peter Gohery is a truly inspirational man for us. He voluntarily chose to tell us his life story on how he lost his leg in a farm accident and the impact it has had on, not only him, but his family and friends too.

“We also made a farm safety video as we decided that it would be easier to communicate with farmers through video – rather than by having inspections. This video ticks all the boxes on the HSA document – and it is extremely easy to understand.

“All of these videos were filmed in our own time and we were helped by our teacher Paul Butler, who we are very grateful to, and also to our teachers Michelle Ford and Paul Dolan,” he said.

Youth to be commended

The launch of the video and competition comes after a week of dismay and horror among the farming community over the emergence of “reckless” videos on social media site TikTok, depicting individuals engaged in several dangerous pranks involving farm machinery.

Speaking to AgriLand about the launch of the initiative, IFA president Tim Cullinan drew on the vast contrast between the two sets of visuals.

“Compared to the scenes witnessed on TikTok this week, what these admirable young men have been doing is absolutely exceptional. It’s an excellent initiative.

“They put a lot of time and effort into it. To see these young farmers act out potential farm accidents and the dangers around them is very positive.

“It’s about getting the message out there regarding the danger on farms – and there is no better way of doing it than through our youth.

“It’s important that the HSA guidelines were brought in too. We in IFA prioritise farm safety and we’re delighted to be involved in this initiative,” he said.

Pat Griffin, senior inspector at the HSA, echoed these sentiments.

“These young lads became interested in farm safety following the accident of one of their friends – they wanted to do something to support farm safety.

“They have their heads in gear and their minds switched on to farm safety – and it’s a good antidote to what we’ve seen on TikTok in recent days.

“It is very impressive and it is very raw. It really represents typical farmyards and farm facilities – there is nothing polished about it. It is very good in tracking what the risks are and how simple it is to put it right.

“They are to be commended in what they have developed and we fully support what they are trying to do as it will resonate with their peers of the same age profile,” said Griffin.

From the ground up

Meanwhile, Brian Rohan of Embrace Farm also offered his words of support to St. Joseph’s CBS.

“First and foremost these lads need to be complimented – and their teachers and the school. This initiative led from a number of different factors whereby, unfortunately, they have been badly affected around the Nenagh area by fatalities on farms.

“To see these young men – out of their grief and shock over the loss of their friend Patrick – come along, with the help of their teachers, and put this together they deserve great credit for it.

“Also, Peter Gohery has been visiting St. Joseph’s CBS for the last three or four years to speak to students about farm safety – so it just goes to show the impact that Peter’s talks can have on people. He talks from his real-life experience of a horrific accident and surviving it.

“This initiative is being led from the ground up. These are lads that are out on the farm every day seeing the dangers and saying ‘we can do things differently’.

“It’s about getting the right people to look at this video. Those young lads involved in the TikTok videos need to watch this and see the harsh reality of what can happen,” Brian concluded.

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