Farm Ireland

Wednesday 24 April 2019

New task force looks at possible policy changes to improve safety on farms

Reduction farm safety inspections in recent years
Reduction farm safety inspections in recent years
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

The first meeting of a task force brought together to look at possible policy changes to assist the agricultural sector improve its safety record took place today.

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD., whose remit includes workplace health and safety, chaired the meeting of the the group which is made up of representatives from various Government Departments and State Agencies, who are identified as having a role to play in deciding on the appropriateness of certain policy changes.

These changes were suggested by agricultural sector representatives following Minister Breen’s and Minister Creed’s meeting with those organisations in May 2017.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Breen said for too many years, Farming and the Agricultural sector has suffered the largest number of workplace fatalities in Ireland.

"The number of deaths in the sector is completely disproportionate to the numbers employed. In an attempt to change this, last year I asked sector representatives to identify policy changes that they believed could help improve the situation.

“Today I have presented the submissions received to the various policy-making Departments or Agencies to find out what it is possible to introduce and what may not be. There is clearly no immediate solution to this continuing issue, but I am convinced that by working together, the State and the farming Community can bring about positive change and reduce deaths”, Minister Breen continued.

The task force was the result of a suggestion by the agricultural sector and from the Board of the Health and Safety Authority. The matters discussed by the task force covered a wide range and included items on education, training and the age profile of farmers.

In 2017, 24 persons died while at work in agriculture. This represents more than 50% of the workplace fatalities recorded by the HSA for the year (47). To date this year, three people from the farming community have lost their lives in work-related accidents.

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The Minister indicated that the task force convened today will meet again and firm proposals will emerge. Following the identification of actions Minister Breen will discuss them with his colleague Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.

The Minister is again calling on farmers to stay safe, think about their actions and consider work practices on a daily basis.

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