Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 26 May 2018

Nearly 20% of farm deaths are due to falls from heights

New inspection push to halt farm deaths from falls from heights

To date some 966 health and safety inspections have been carried out on farms this year.
To date some 966 health and safety inspections have been carried out on farms this year.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The third in a series of inspection crackdowns by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) will see targeted inspections to prevent accidents as a result of falls for heights on Irish farms.

In 2017 the HSA is carrying out three focused farm campaigns each of one month duration. The first focused on “animal handling”, the second on working with “machinery” and the third will focus on “working from heights” expected to take place in the autumn.

Falls from a height are the major cause of accidents involving farm buildings. Of particular concern is falling through fragile roofs and from ladders.

Fatal and serious accidents often happen when roofs are being quickly repaired. A total of 18pc of all deaths in the agricultural sector are associated with falls or collapses.

These deaths are particularly linked to fragile roof sheeting and skylights. Weathered skylights become indistinguishable from other roofing material.

Both skylights and glass, when painted over, are not recognisable as such and are highly dangerous.

To date some 966 health and safety inspections have been carried out on farms this year. Visits to farms by inspectors include routine unannounced inspections to monitor compliance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 and with other health and safety regulations and to investigate fatal and serious farm accidents.

Typically in any one year there can be between 60 – 90 investigations on farms with the rest being unannounced inspections.

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Since the start of this year there have been 12 people killed on farms, with 8 deaths of farmers over 70 years of age.

In 2017 the Health and Safety Authority has allocated a budget of €287,000 for farm safety initiatives.

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