Farm deaths remain high
Agriculture remains one of the most dangerous sectors to work in, according to new fatal accident statistics released by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
Agriculture recorded the highest number of deaths for the third year in succession, with 21 people tragically killed on farms in 2012, compared to 22 in 2011.
While the HSA recorded a 13pc reduction in the number of workplace deaths across all sectors in 2012, the number of farm deaths has remained unacceptably high at 21-22 for the past three years.
Some 47 people were killed in workplace accidents last year compared to 54 in 2011.
The HSA figures show a high number of farming fatalities among people aged 65 or over. Nine of those killed on farms ranged in age from 65 to 88.
The majority of fatal accidents occurred during routine farming operations.
Among those killed were an 88-year-old Leitrim farmer who was crushed by his tractor as he attached a fertiliser spreader, and a 51-year-old Kilkenny farmer who became trapped while trying to rescue a calf from between straw bales.
In September, the danger of slurry gases was brought sharply home by the appalling deaths of three members of the Spence family in Co Down, but slurry-related deaths also occurred on farms in Wexford and Westmeath last year.
Martin O'Halloran, HSA chief executive, said: "Farms are family homes as well as workplaces so farmers need to realise that safe farming is about protecting themselves, their family and their businesses."