Medics worried at lack of farmer safety training

Medics at Cork University Hospital have raised concerns about the lack of mandatory safety training for farmers.

The medics at the hospital’s emergency department raised their concerns after revealing that 54 were patients admitted to CUH after major trauma caused by a farm accident between 2009 and 2013.

In their study, the medics record that there was one fatal injury — a farmer had died after receiving a kick from a cow.

They also found that a two-year-old suffered a broken leg after being struck by a cow.

They found that the median age of those admitted was 56; 85% were male; and the median hospital length of stay was four days.

Leg breaks were the most common injuries sustained by the group, accounting for 13 injuries.

Other injuries included hip fracture, blunt chest trauma, head injuries, arm breaks, spinal fractures, pelvic fractures, facial injuries, and lacerations.

The medics said July was the month that saw most admissions — the busiest period coincided with when cows can become pregnant and the ‘bull is with the herd’.

Nine of the hospital admissions were to the intensive care unit, with four sustaining head injuries.

The medics state that more than one third of the farmers who suffered major trauma were over 65.

Farming is the country’s most dangerous industry, with 138 farmer deaths between 2009 and 2015.

The medics state: “In most industries, these workers would be retired. Older farmers stayed in hospital longer than their younger counterparts This compounds the economic impact of injuries suffered — on both a personal level and on the sector.”

The medics state that the lack of safety training standards for farmers should be examined in order to improve safety practices.

“When we treat these injuries in hospital, the horse, cow, or bull has bolted; lack of mandatory safety training is an oversight peculiar to the agriculture industry. This is an area which should be examined by governing bodies as a matter of urgency.”

The medics state that from a public health perspective, it is vital that the Irish Farmers’ Association, Teagasc, and the Health and Safety Authority continue to strengthen their efforts to raise awareness of the dangers facing farmers and try to reduce the number of fatal and non-fatal injuries which occur on farms each year.

“This is an area which should be examined by governing bodies as a matter of urgency,” state the medics.

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