Health and Safety Authority sources have confirmed they will (on a case by case basis) consider going straight to prosecution for non-compliance in three specific areas of farm safety.
Farmers working with unguarded PTO assemblies (this includes defects at U-guard, O-guard and shaft guard).
Farmers working machinery while carrying children under the age of seven within the cabs (this is prohibited by the child safety code of practice).
Farmers having open or unprotected lagoons or agitation points on the farm with risk of persons falling in.
A spokesperson said: “With the level of fatal accidents this year, and particularly the numbers of children and young persons involved, we have reviewed our enforcement approach in the farming sector. In an attempt to start to deal with this, we are indicating there are a few straightforward minimum standards that we must insist on.”
All three areas are described as instances where a very high risk of serious injury or death can be reduced almost to zero, and at very small cost.
“Compliance is simple, and clearly has the potential to save many from injury and death. Also, it is important to note that farmers who are compliant have absolutely nothing to fear from the inspection process, which will continue to be supportive, providing practical advice and guidance on farm safety matters.”
IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs chairwoman Maura Canning said: “I am very disappointed that the HSA would introduce any changes without consulting the Farm Safety Partnership, which was established by the HSA as an advisory committee on the agricultural sector”.
She said research has shown the best way to improve farm safety is to change behavioural habits of farmers through education and training. “Threatening prosecution does not reduce farm accidents or fatalities.” She said IFA has sought an urgent meeting with the HSA.
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