Irish Rural Link warns elderly farmers working alone to be extra vigilant

OLDER people working on farms were urged by Irish Rural Link (IRL) yesterday to be extra vigilant as the days grow shorter.

IRL, which represents the interests of more than 300 rural community groups, is a member of the Health and Safety Authority’s Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee.

Membership development officer Vincent Nally said the highest incidence of farm fatalities is generally among elderly farmers, who may be working alone for much of the time.

“Compromised mobility and delayed reaction time are probably the biggest contributory factors, particularly in relation to deaths involving machinery, bulls and livestock in general.

“Older farmers must understand their limitations and any disability that may affect their ability to do a job safely,” he said.

Mr Nally said 50% of all farm deaths involved farmers over the age of 65.

Meanwhile claims data published yesterday by Hibernian Aviva, the country’s largest insurer, revealed that nearly one third of all farm accidents are caused by livestock.

A further 25% of accidents involve farm machinery and 5% result from people falling from heights.

Regionally, Kilkenny shows the highest incidence of farm accidents, followed by Louth, Cork, Dublin and Waterford.

The claims data also reveals that farm accidents are most likely to occur on a Friday and the incidence of farm accidents involving injuries is much higher during the spring and summer than the autumn and winter months.

A total of 21 work-related deaths, three of them involving children, occurred in the farming sector in 2008 — nearly double the 11 deaths in 2007.

Michael Brennan of Hibernian Aviva said the company has launched a safety campaign which includes the publication of a farm safety guide and a series of events at selected branches.

The company is also offering a discount of up to 15% off farm insurance premiums if owners employ safe working practices.

The following blight warning has been issued by Met Éireann: Weather conducive to the spread of potato blight will develop at times tomorrow night, Monday or Tuesday.


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