Action on farm deaths a priority for Calleary
The agricultural sector still has the worst workplace safety record as 11 deaths have already occurred on Irish farms this year.
Minister for Labour Affairs Dara Calleary, who is responsible for national policy on occupational health and safety, met farming and insurance interests last Thursday in the second of a series of meetings to address the problem.
Mr Calleary also took part in a farm walk in Oldtown, Co Dublin, where farmer William Duffy pointed out potential hazardous events or occurrences that exist on farms.
The farm walk was the first in a series that will be organised around the country during the course of the year, which farmers have been strongly encouraged to attend.
The minister had previously asked the farming organisations for their input into a plan to improve farm safety. He said that both he and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) would monitor the situation over the next six months to see how the various proposals were being implemented.
"The challenge facing us all, the farming bodies and the Health and Safety Authority alike, is how to translate the increased levels of awareness into reducing the number of deaths and injuries on farms," he said.
"Unfortunately, we have already had 11 farm-related deaths this year. I have said it in the past, and I want to repeat it again: we need to change the whole culture in relation to farm safety and I look forward to the active implementation of these plans in order to achieve that goal.
"We all have to work together to achieve this. None of us can do it on our own."
In April the HSA conducted a special two-week inspection campaign where more than 293 farm-related inspections were carried out, bringing the total number of inspections so far this year to 710.
It found that while up to 65pc of farmers were meeting their legal requirement to have either a safety statement or code of practice for their farm, there was still "a significant lack of follow-through" in the implementation of these on the ground.
However, the HSA has said that levels of awareness had increased significantly and were now approaching 80pc.
The authority concluded that there was a continuing failure to fully and adequately address the main known hazards on many farms, particularly in the areas of machinery safety and slurry handling.
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