Farm Ireland

Friday 28 July 2017

Hundreds of farmers face inspections in new bid to curb livestock attacks

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A month-long intensive farm inspection campaign is being undertaken by the Health and Safety Authority.

The inspections are aimed at reducing the number of accidents resulting in injury and death on farms.

Inspectors from the Authority will visit almost 500 farms over the next few weeks and there will be a particular focus on the safe handling of livestock. 

The Health and Safety Authority will begin on Wednesday March 1. 

The month of March is a particularly busy period for calving and the risk of serious injury can be very high, so inspectors will be focusing on the common risks encountered and livestock safety in general.

Pat Griffin, Senior Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, said that although the calving period is a particularly risky time of the year, dangerous situations can be minimised. 

“I would encourage Farmers to take time to understand the basics of animal behaviour and be alert for signs of aggression.  In particular, care is needed around cows with a new born calf when they can be unpredictable and much more likely to attack. 

“Never turn your back on a cow with a new born, have a planned escape route and keep children and inexperienced handlers well away”.

“The calving area should provide adequate space, be tidy, well-bedded with clean straw and be clearly lit and free of obstructions.

“Also, well designed calving pens and gates are important and help minimise the direct physical contact between the cow, or heifer, and farmer”.

Griffin added, “We are currently in a busy period for calving and the risk of injury is very high.  Farmers are working long hours, often with broken sleep, so fatigue and general tiredness can also be a factor. Our message is simple, stay alert, don’t take risks and get help when it’s needed. 

“The types of injuries that can be sustained with livestock attacks are very serious and can be life-threatening”.


The clampdown comes following recent comments by Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan who said Irish farmers who break farm safety rules could risk losing their EU grants.

Mr Hogan said he was reluctantly coming to this conclusion in the light of the large toll of deaths from farm accidents in 2016. He said the rate of serious workplace accidents was reducing in Ireland and across the EU – but no such progress was happening in farming where 21 Irish people were killed in 2016.

The Commissioner said progress was being made and two EU-backed schemes were, TAMS 2 and the Green Cert, were laying great emphasis on farm safety, especially for young farmers.

“But we have to do more in the light of the recent accidents and heart-breaking tragedies which have hit so many farm families in 2016,” Mr Hogan told the Irish Independent.

The EU Commissioner said farmers can already lose grant money if they breach pollution control rules or other issues like animal welfare.

He said it is time to consider including farm safety in the so-called “cross compliance” regime to help preserve human life.

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