Tractor brakes a concern in 37% of farm inspections

More than one-third of farms inspected last year were given written advice on maintaining handbrakes in tractors — the biggest killer in farm machine accidents.
Tractor brakes a concern in 37% of farm inspections

Information from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) also found that of the 2,756 inspections and 88 investigations carried out last year, just 55% had adequate slurry handling arrangements.

Inspectors also found that 23% of farms had enforcement action taken on poor PTO guarding on machinery and 37% were given written advice on maintaining handbrakes on tractors.

According to the HSA, handbrake issues were a factor in 13 of the 21 lives lost due to tractors and machinery last year.

The inspections also found that 80% had adequate play areas for children, and in 69% of farms, health and safety for elderly people was adequate, while 55% had adequate slurry-handling arrangements.

Officials from the HSA will appear before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food, and the Marine this morning on proposals to cut back on the number of farm safety inspections despite the rise in farm fatalities.

The meeting comes just a week after the tragic death of Kilkenny farmer Johnny Ryan, the father of All-Ireland-winning hurler, Lester.

Last year also saw the worst year for farm fatalities in almost a quarter of a century, and renewed calls for greater efforts to lower the number of serious accidents taking place on farms.

Last week, the HSA said the number of inspections being carried out this year would be reduced, but that it was not a matter of resources but rather a change of emphasis in its prevention work.

Some inspectors will instead receive advice from Teagasc specialists in how to work with 50 knowledge transfer groups around the country, with hopes that farmers will monitor and advise on safety standards with their peers.

Ahead of this morning’s meeting at Leinster House, committee chairman and TD Andrew Doyle said members would be asking the HSA about its “rationale” for cutting the number of inspections following a year in which 30 people died on farms — the worst such figure since 1991.

“According to Teagasc, over 2,000 injuries occur on Irish farms every year, making our farms and farmyards up to twice as hazardous as those of other European countries,” he said.

“About three-quarters of these injuries are associated with machinery, livestock, and trips and falls.

“Committee members are deeply concerned at the HSA’s programme of work for 2015 proposing a reduction in farm inspection targets to 2,300 from 2,900 last year.”

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