Half of all EU workplace deaths occur in farming
MEPs push for integrated data to help reduce accidents and fatalities
Rauli-Jan Albert, a livestock farmer in the eastern Finnish village of Valtimo, was almost crushed to death by a young heifer a few years ago as he was guiding his herd through a narrow passageway.
It's the kind of freak accident that you can't predict, but that will soon be recorded in the EU's 10-year farm census and other periodic surveys.
"Now I can foresee it, but I couldn't think that it would happen," Albert recalls. "Of course, when you do work with animals, you never can know if, or with what reason, an animal can get the impulse to do something irrational."
For Mr Albert, farming is getting safer thanks to newer and smarter equipment, but it's still a challenge, especially on small farms.
"Normally, your machinery is quite new or it is maintained systematically," he told the Farming Independent. "I think the most critical thing is when you have a machine running," he adds, "but, I, as a farmer, have in mind what can happen and I try to avoid it."
Finnish farmers have fewer accidents than their Irish counterparts. According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), one person dies on an Irish farm every two weeks. According to Eurostat, almost half of all fatal workplace accidents in 2015 were in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, an incidence rate (number of fatalities per 100,000 people) that was four times the EU average.
Even more farm workers suffer life-changing injuries. John Dillon, a former president of the Irish Farmers' Association, had his leg crushed in a quad bike accident a few years ago.
He recounts his harrowing tale on the HSA's 'Survivor Stories' website, along with Kevin McEnteggart, who survived a childhood fall into a slurry tank.