Saturday 3 December 2016

Government cuts spending on farm safety initiatives

Laura Larkin

Published 18/07/2016 | 02:30

Figures from the Health and Safety Authority show there have been seven fatal accidents
on farms so far this year, while in 2015, 18 people lost their lives in farm accidents (Stock photo)
Figures from the Health and Safety Authority show there have been seven fatal accidents on farms so far this year, while in 2015, 18 people lost their lives in farm accidents (Stock photo)

Government spending on farm safety initiatives is down 38pc on last year.

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Figures released to Fianna Fáil's Charlie McConalogue show that the budget for farm safety initiatives this year is €244,000. However, in 2015 €396,251 was spent on this area.

It is the third year that funding for such initiatives has decreased. In 2013 the Government spent €589,870, while in 2014 the number dipped to €449,669.

Mr McConalogue said his party supports a schools programme for farm safety, similar to road safety initiatives rolled out in schools, to promote safe farming practices and prevent accidents.

He said the news would be "shocking" to people around the country given the number of fatal accidents on farms each year.

"It is particularly important that there is vigilance on farms as the summer period means that more and more children will be spending time on the farm. It is vital that the Government sufficiently fund information and best practice health and safety campaigns," he said.

Figures from the Health and Safety Authority show there have been seven fatal accidents on farms so far this year, while in 2015 18 people lost their lives in farm accidents. The HSA data shows the very young and old are especially vulnerable when it comes to incidents on farms.

The number of deaths in agriculture is among the highest of any industry despite the proportionately lower number of people working in the sector.

In response to a parliamentary question tabled by the Donegal TD, Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor referred to a number of national initiatives such as Farm Safety Week and the new Farm Safety Action Plan 2016-18.

"I am particularly concerned at the high level of farm fatalities and it goes without saying that safety in agriculture continues to be a high priority for the HSA and for the Government," she said.

"Typically in any one year, there would be between 60-90 investigations on farms with the rest being unannounced inspections. Each year, the HSA carry out a two-week intensive farm inspection campaign in April and this year over 500 inspections were carried out," she said.

Safety walks and presentations by the HSA are also carried out, she added.

Irish Independent

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