Agencies join forces on updated farm safety code of practice

An updated version of the Farm Safety Code of Practice has been published by the Health and Safety Authority to help prevent future injury and occupational ill health in agriculture.

The revised code has been developed by the HSA with assistance and inputs from the Farm Safety Partnership and Teagasc.

It aims to reflect technical progress in the sector, changes in farming practice, equipment and accident trends. Originally published in 2006, the code was comprised of four items - general guidance, risk assessment, a safe system of work plan documents and a DVD.

The revised code now comprises just two documents - general guidance and a working risk assessment.

But it performs the same function as the original. New features include specific sections for slurry handling and harvesting.

There are revised references to legislation and guidance, updated imagery and a section on how to understand and use new chemical symbols. There are also new recommendations and approaches to farm building maintenance.

Martin O’Halloran, HSA chief executive, said the code is the cornerstone of farm safety, health and wellbeing.

“We wanted to make it more reflective of modern farming. We also wanted to make it easier for farmers to use. The revised code focuses in on the most common hazards and provides workable solutions that can be put in place with minimal to zero cost,” he said.

Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc, said it was important that whatever came out of the process was an improvement on the existing code.

“This update has definitely achieved that and it will be of huge benefit to educators and advisors in the farming sector,” he said.

The revised code of practice will help farmers meet their duties under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. It came into operation at the start of July. The old version will be phased out over an 18-month period.

Farm Safety Week, which begins today and continues until July 28, will focus on a different risk each day.

These will change from farm safety statistics, machinery and transport to falls, livestock and slurry and children on farms

Farmers are being encouraged to take time during the week to assess the safety of routine tasks. The message is that farm safety is a lifestyle not a slogan.

Farming continues to have one of the poorest safety records of any sector in Ireland. Last year, there were 21 fatalities in farm accidents while 13 people have lost their lives so far in 2017.

Despite increased awareness and discussion on safety, farmers of all ages are still deemed to be taking risks when working.

According to the Irish Farmers Association: “The best way to protect you, your family and anyone working or visiting the farm is to know where hazards occur and to eliminate or reduce the risks by implementing the appropriate control measures.”

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