Safety seminars after nine deaths in farm-related accidents this year

NINE people have lost their lives in farm-related accidents so far this year compared with 11 for all of 2009.

Health and Safety Authority senior inspector Pat Griffin said vehicles and machinery are generally involved in more than 50% of fatal incidents each year. Last year 20% of all workplace deaths occurred in agriculture and forestry, while just 6% of the working population is employed in the sector.

John McNamara, Teagasc health and safety officer, said a long-term study of farm deaths between 1993 and 2008 indicates an increasing trend of farm deaths on dairy farms. He said 58% of all farm deaths occurred on dairy farms over the period 2000-2007 compared with 16% for the period 1993-1999.

Areas of high levels of farm deaths have been identified as south-west Cork and mid Kerry, mid-Tipperary and the north-east counties, including Louth, Westmeath, Cavan, and Longford.

Mr McNamara said while farm accidents tend to have a number of causes, international studies indicate that human factors are involved in 90% of accidents.

“This suggests that the first and most immediate approach to cut the shocking toll of tragedy and pain and suffering associated with farm injuries is to dramatically heighten awareness of the causes and consequences of injury,” he said.

The seminars will take place in areas which have recently had high levels of farm workplace fatalities including Killarney (Monday), Tipperary town (Tuesday) and Dundalk (Thursday).

Health and safety management on dairy farms will also be featured at a dairy breeding event at Ballydague, Fermoy, on Tuesday.

Each free seminar will take place in Teagasc advisory and training centres from 2pm-4pm.

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