Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

'Frightening': Experts make harrowing prediction for farm deaths this year

HSA issues warning on fatality figures

Pic: Stock image
Pic: Stock image
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

As many as 29 lives could be lost to to workplace accidents in the farm sector, experts have warned.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) told a high level meeting of farm bodies and Ministers' that there were 12 deaths so far this year, with eight over the age of 70.

The safety experts warned that based on past trends the fatality rate could reach as many as 29 by year end.

The ICMSA's John Comer described it as "absolutely frightening" and called on every single farmer to consciously redouble their efforts in relation to farm safety.

"It should be a warning to all farm families that, as we get older, we need to recognise that we simply have to take more precautions."

HSA inspector Pat Griffin said it was not surprising that farmers working into old age had less flexibility, movement and potentially health issues that leave them more prone to accidents.

He said workers in most other professions including civil servants or multi-nationals are sent on courses to prepare for retirement.

"A farmer doesn't get any training on how to retire. He signs a piece of paper and hands the farm over. Yet when they walk out their backdoor they are straight into their workplace," said Mr Griffin. "Retirement is not in their heads."

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He warned many farmers' identities were centred around their work and many suffered depression and self-esteem issues after they retire.

Mr Griffin said the key to safety was training and a suite of up to 20 courses from tractor safety to first aid was needed for the farming community. He said this could be linked into schemes to ensure that farmers must complete a one-day course each year.

Concerns over quads and the potential of installing safety rollbars was also raised.

Teagasc's John McNamara warned the majority of the deaths this year were linked to farm tractors and quads.

Minister of State Pat Breen who set up the meeting along with Agriculture Minister Michael Creed will seek submissions on measures that might help curb farm deaths.

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