'The pens should be reserved for employees only' - Minister backs crackdown on mart safety

Annual Continental Show & Sale of Heifers Elphin Mart. Avoid Eye Contact at The Mart.
Photo Brian Farrell
Annual Continental Show & Sale of Heifers Elphin Mart. Avoid Eye Contact at The Mart. Photo Brian Farrell
Castlerea Mart Crush Bars. Photo Brian Farrell
Michael McMorrow from Dowry has special elevation for his wheelchair at Manorhamilton Mart Photo Brian Farrell
Photo Brian Farrell
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

People must use common sense themselves and recognise the dangers of mixing with animals, according to the Minister for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen.

The Minister is who is responsible for Workplace Safety policy said that under no circumstances should members of the public be in the passages between the pens or the pens themselves because cattle at marts are in unfamiliar surroundings and their behaviour can be unpredictable.

It comes following a major Health and Safety crackdown by mart owners and managers with an effective ban in many marts on farmers entering areas where cattle are penned.

New rules involve keeping mart visitors and livestock apart from each other this may include restricted access to livestock delivery points, closing off passageways and the establishment of gantries and bridges to allow for safe viewing of livestock, depending on the size of the mart involved.

It came following a serious accident in Mohill Mart where a man sustained severe head injuries after an incident involving an animal.

Minister Breen said mart owners and managers have statutory obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

"They have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees and the general public.

"Most marts and co-operatives are very conscious of safety around animals.

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"The public should be in the auction rooms rather than outside where the animals are penned.

"The pens should be reserved for employees only.

"Marts are dangerous places, particularly in the morning when cattle are being offloaded from trailers into the pens, he said.

The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) has urged mart-goers to embrace and support the safety measures being implemented on an ongoing basis by marts across Ireland.

“Everyone was very upset to hear of this distressing accident.  It’s always important to figure out how something like this could have happened and also to take any measures necessary to avoid a recurrence.

“Over the past number of months, marts have been implementing extra measures to further reduce health and safety risks. All ICOS mart drovers already receive professional training in livestock management including health and safety.

"We are also providing additional training for our staff along with safety information, new signage and announcements re-advising patrons that safety comes first. It is a mutual concern that everyone must work together collectively to address," it said.

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