Analysis: Carrot and stick approach required to ensure that farmers fully engage on safety
Farming is the most dangerous profession in Ireland. 197 people have lost their lives in farm accidents between 2007-2016.
In 2016, the overall trend in workplace deaths decreased by 21pc from 56 to 44 deaths, however farming deaths actually increased by 17pc from 18 to 21 deaths. At the time of writing, 20 people have already lost their lives in farming accidents so far this year.
Studies have shown that farmers attitudes to safety only change after serious injury occurs. It is clear we have a problem in our industry.
Farm safety legislation is covered under The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and it requires all farmers to prepare and implement a Safety Statement. The act requires:
- a safe place of work which includes the farmyard and buildings
- safe working practices and procedures
- safe equipment and machinery
- a safe way in and out of the farmyard and other places of work, including farm buildings
- information and training for workers
- personal protective equipment where necessary
- a safe system for the storage, handling and use of articles and substances
- adequate toilet and washing facilities
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have a specialist group of inspectors who visit approximately 3,000 farms throughout the country per annum. Inspection campaigns over recent years have found that levels of compliance in the sector are slowly increasing, however, the sector continues to experience a disproportionately high level of fatal accidents.
The inspectors can serve two types of notification:
(1) An Improvement Notice: a legal directive from an inspector requiring that certain improvements be carried out in a specified time-frame, or
(2) A Prohibition Notice: a legal instruction directing that a specified work activity be stopped due to the level of danger.