Safety experts issue winter farm warning

Fatality rate in farming 'absolutely horrendous' says HSA boss

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Farm fatalities will rise this winter unless farmers heed safety campaigns, a leading safety expert has warned.

"I hope we won't reach 2014 levels (30 deaths) but with still two months to go we already have 22 deaths - there's people in intensive care after accidents as well," said HSA chief inspector Pat Griffin.

While farm accidents have traditionally peaked in the summer, Teagasc's heath and safety advisor John McNamara said that farmers need to take extra care during the winter as they are vulnerable to accidents at any time.

"There was a time when accidents used to rise in June and fall in winter but that has gone. Accidents can peak at any time of year.

"Last year there was a high trend in December and certainly as the work increases in January people get busier and rush more," he said.

Mr McNamara warned that the farming sector needs to aim for a "zero vision" in order to reduce farm deaths.

Pat Griffin Director of the HSA
Pat Griffin Director of the HSA


Mr McNamara pointed to rising fatality figures in some European countries that had previously reached zero fatalities on farms.

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"Sweden in 2006 reached zero which was great but in 2014 it had eight deaths. In 2014 Denmark had zero deaths but in 2016 they had 16 deaths."

Mr Griffin said that agriculture is the most dangerous industry in Ireland and that the mentality of farmers needs to change.

"If you look at everyone in Ireland, we have between 18 and 19 deaths per 100,000 in agriculture, so that means it has by far the highest rate of accidents of any major economic sector in Ireland. We have to change that.

"Farmers have to know and understand where the risks are and protect themselves from them.

"If you look at 10 years of deaths the big figure I want to point out is that 197 people have been killed, that's 197 families destroyed. It's absolutely horrendous," he said.

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