Older farmers still at risk of workplace accidents

Elderly farmers are still at risk of serious workplace accidents despite a growing focus on measures to cut risks.

New figures from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) show that in 940 farm inspections conducted in the first half of this year, only 55% had adequately addressed risks to the health and safety of elderly people.

Only 58% of farms inspected in the first half of the year had adequate slurry handling arrangements, despite increased media attention of the issue due to recent fatalities.

The situation surrounding the safety of children on farms was better, however.

According to the HSA, key issues addressed in the inspections found 84% of farms inspected had adequate play areas for children.

In the first half of the year the HSA investigated 25 very serious or fatal accidents on farms.

According to Pat Griffin, a senior inspector with the HSA, during these inspections 24% had enforcement action taken for poor power take-off shaft guarding on tractors and 36% were given written advice on maintaining hand brakes on tractors.

Mr Griffin said: “These continue to be the biggest killer in 2014 with 13 of the 21 lives lost due to tractors and machinery.”

The inspections also indicated that 61% of the farms had the safety statement/code of practice available at the workplace.

Of those who had a safety statement/Agriculture CoP available, 71% had complied with the action list of hazards.

By comparison, in 68 forestry inspections there was over 90% compliance on worker training, manager and contractor roles and 71% complied with machinery safety measures.

There has been a growing focus on farm safety following a spate of tragic deaths in recent years.

Brian and Norma Rohan, who established Embrace FARM — Farming Accidents Remembered and Missed —have already launched acampaign entitled ‘What’s Left Behind’, which features online video with testimonies from families who have lost loved ones in farming incidents.

Farming has been the country’s most dangerous profession in recent years, based on the number of serious incidents and fatalities.

The HSA has admitted that it needs to get the message of farm safety through to older farmers in particular, as they may have developed unsafe practices over a number of decades.



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