Farmers urged to improve safety as their work becomes more intensive

Agri Aware is urging farmers to improve their on-farm safety, and to remind themselves of the 22 farm fatalities so far this year, with the latest tragedy happening in Roscommon just this Wednesday.
Farmers urged to improve safety as their work becomes more intensive

The farming and agri-food educational body hosted a Farm Safety Maze at this week’s National Ploughing Championships. Launched by rugby star Sean O’Brien, the maze invited visitors to answer key farm safety questions to reach the end point.

Agri Aware chairman, Bernard Donohue, said: “Simple and effective messages about farm safety need to be communicated on a continuous basis to reduce the number of farm accidents. If people leave with one safety message, then that could result in one less farm accident.”

The fatality rate in agriculture is much higher than for any other economic sector with the fatal accidents including four children.

FBD chief executive, Andrew Langford, noted: “2014 is the UN/EU International Year of Family Farming. The family farm unit is the cornerstone of Ireland’s agriculture industry. Farm safety needs focus now, more than ever and I encourage everyone who has influence in the industry to redouble their efforts to reduce the number of such tragic accidents.”

Farm bereavement support group Embrace Farm also launched its awareness initiative at this week’s ploughing event. The group warns that intensification of farming will lead to even more farm accidents unless vigilance on farms is dialled up.

Embrace Farm founder Brian Rohan launched the first in a series of video testimonies — which can be viewed on www.hsa.ie — following the death of Offaly hurling U-21 manager Dermot Hogan this summer.

“Farming is long since Ireland’s most dangerous industry. Last year it was responsible for 40% of workplace deaths, with 17 deaths across the year. There were 10 deaths at the end of September in 2013 but this year has been even worse, with 21 already. That’s a 110% increase and you have to fear we are not at the end of it.

“Farming has become much more mechanised over recent decades and that has clearly increased the risk. My concern is that as farming intensifies over the coming years, it could get worse. The ending of quotas, for example, is going to see a lot of young farmers, in particular, increasing their herd size. That’s going to mean more animals, more silage to be harvested, more machinery on farms and generally more activity. That equates to greater risk.”

Mr Rohan, whose father Liam died aged 74 following an accident at the family farm, said the videos featuring four farm families will give an insight into the emotional and practical loss associated with farm accidents.

“What’s left behind is awful, make no mistake about it and its essentially across two strands. There’s the terrible emotional pain that is so obvious but then there’s the huge practical pain, that many people don’t realise at the time, of who picks up the pieces.”

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said: “The families who have agreed to open up and tell their painful stories in these videos are following the Rohan family lead and we owe them a debt of gratitude for the courage they have shown. In the midst of their pain they are thinking of others by trying to alert them to the dangers. That is hugely admirable and if the first in the series of their videos is anything to go by, their efforts will inspire greater safety.”

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