Farmers need 'behavioural change' on safety - Creed

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Behavioural change is needed to prevent accidents on farms, the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said ahead of Farm Safety Week.

"While there are many risks in farming, farming does not have to be a dangerous occupation. Behavioural change is what is required to prevent many accidents. It is a case of being aware of the dangers and taking the time to do what is necessary to minimise the risk."

The Minister called on farmers to complete a Farm Risk Assessment and said one of the first steps in helping to achieve a safe farm is for farmers to adhere to the Farm Safety Code of Practice and to review their Farm Risk Assessment.

"It is important that all farming organisations encourage farmers to change their behaviour in relation to farm safety.

"To date this year there have been 12 fatal farm accidents on Irish farms. These 12 fatal farm accidents account for over 40pc of all fatal work accidents so far in 2019, while farming accounts for less than 6pc of the workforce.

"No individual action or organisation can solve this difficult problem that impacts so negatively on so many lives each year. We must all work together with the single goal of preventing farm accidents and therefore saving lives and minimising serious injuries," added Minister Creed.

Stark

IFA president Joe Healy said the statistics around farm accidents and fatalities are stark.

Farming continues to have one of the poorest safety records of any sector in Ireland. Last year, 15 people lost their lives in farm accidents and 12 people have lost their lives so far in 2019.

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"They don't tell you about the devastating impact a farm fatality has on families and communities; they don't tell you the impact a farm accident can have on the rest of your life, on your ability to run the farm.

"Understanding the risks on and around a farm operation makes it easier to avoid dangers, and makes accidents less likely. However, all too often farmers do not recognise the risks on their farms, which makes it difficult to manage the problem."

Last year, IFA appointed a Farm Health and Safety executive to implement a pilot farmer-to-farmer peer learning initiative at branch level, to advise farmers about potential risks and educate them to become safety ambassadors within their communities.

"This kind of informal learning has been shown to be effective because the people involved have the potential to adapt the programme to meet their needs and develop their own approaches to improve safety on the farm," said Mr Healy.

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