HSA turns up heat after rise in farm deaths
Farm inspections by officers from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) are to be increased almost three-fold this year, as the focus for safety concentrates on serious injuries and fatalities in the workplace.
The HSA has targeted at least 3,000 farms to be inspected before the end of the year, following the appointment of a number of officers who will be working solely on farm inspections.
This follows a 250pc increase in farm-related fatalities last year to 26, one of the worst years in a decade for accidents involving loss of life on Irish farms.
Concerns for this year have been heightened after six people died recently as a result of farm accidents, bringing the total for the year to date to ten.
The dairy sector has consistently seen the highest number of farm fatalities out of all the farming enterprises.
There are about 1,500 farm accidents reported each year.
John Kennedy, senior inspector in the mid-west region, said that the policy of the HSA visits to farms was primarily to advise farmers on the dangers evident on their farms and prosecutions are not being resorted to unless the farmer refuses to co-operate.
"There have been major improvements on farms over the past 10-15 years," he said. "It is rarely now that we find a PTO that is not guarded and conditions generally are a lot better than they were.