'Farmers need more help with difficult jobs to reduce farm accidents'
FARMERS seeking more help for difficult jobs on the land may be key to reducing the numbers of accidents and deaths in the country’s most dangerous workplaces, experts have warned.
The often solitary profession has seen 138 people killed in farm accidents over the past seven years – this makes farming the most lethal job in the country in terms of lives lost.
A new report pinpoints extra help on farms as a major factor in reducing ‘near misses’ and accidents at a time when workplace ‘burnout’ is on the rise following the increase in the country’s herd of dairy cows following the lifting of milk quotas.
“Farm safety is a critical issue,” said Dorothy Watson, one of the author’s behind the latest Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Health and Safety Authority (HSA) research.
“Future policies should emphasise the importance of getting help with difficult tasks on the farm, as the research indicated that failing to do so is associated with a higher risk of accidents and near misses.”
The Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA) Maura Canning said addressing the labour shortage on farms is central to improving farm safety.
“Farmers need two things: extra help to cope with an expanding workload and skilled workers who can handle specialist tasks on farms, particularly those with machinery,” said the IFA’s farm family chairperson, as she highlighted the recent increase in working hours in the dairy sector. “This is of concern from a health and safety and quality of life perspective.”
She said the IFA has suggested the Government issue employment permits to skilled farm workers from non-EEA countries to meet the demand for workers in the dairy sector.