Farm accidents resulted in fewer deaths in 2004

The number of deaths in farm-related accidents in 2004 showed a marked reduction.

A total of 12 fatalities have occurred in the sector compared with 19 for 2003 and an average of 20 per year for the last decade.

Two of the farm deaths were children.

Frank Laffey, Teagasc national safety officer, and Health and Safety Authority farm safety partnership advisory committee chairperson, said one death is one too many.

But the figures do show a marked improvement when compared with recent annual returns. There has also been a considerable uptake by farmers undertaking risk assessments on their farms.

Teagasc research shows that 28% of farmers nationally have completed a farm safety self-assessment document or a safety statement. This compares with just 9.6% in 2001.

Mr Laffey said the style of the document which asks key questions about farm safety standards and practices is “clicking” with farmers and is providing a stimulus to put safety controls in place.

He also noted a marked increase in farmers attending Teagasc health and safety courses since the self assessment document was issued, with over 10,000 farmers receiving training.

Teagasc research indicates that 35% of dairy farmers have completed a risk assessment while the corresponding figure is 24% for cattle and sheep farmers and 33% for tillage farmers respectively.

Mr Laffey said the drop in farm deaths and the increase in risk assessments of farms provide evidence that the farming sector is at last turning the corner regarding improving the dreadful record of farm fatalities and injuries in the sector.

However, he cautioned that there is still a huge amount to be done to bring about a permanent improvement in the safety record in the sector.

He urged farmers who have not yet completed a risk assessment for their farms to “put it top of their list of New Year’s resolutions” to complete early in 2005.

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