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Farmers need to be as safety conscious as foremen on construction sites

This letter is in response to last week’s Ear to the Ground programme aired on RTÉ.

It is with regret that so many lives have been lost on Irish farms over the years (23 this year so far) and it seems that the trend will continue in the wrong way unless there is a change in the way that farmers go about the day-to-day running of their farms.

I think it is the policy of the modern-day farmer to continue to farm in the way that his/her parents or their parents farmed, not taking into account the changes to farm machinery and also the lack of help on the modern-day farm. Most farmers now work on their own, whereas in the past neighbours would come in and help out. I, as a safety professional, can’t sit back any longer and do nothing. We need to take action now.

The first thing to do is to start highlighting the issues. Then, when they are known, a plan must be put in place. This can be easily done through the farm organisations like the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA). Then people like myself can get behind these organisations under the guidance of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and finally put a stop to these needless deaths on our farms.

Now is not the time to be pointing the finger of blame at the HSA . After all look at the construction sector 30 years ago, the only high-visibillity vest you would see would have been on a guard or member of the emergency services. Now it’s a given to wear one on a building site. My wish would be that you would bring to the attention of your readers some of the risks on farms and also the control measures that can be put in place without major financial investment.

John O’Connor

South Mall

Lismore

Co Waterford


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