Dairy farms the most lethal workplace - HSA
Risk factor for fatal injury is 24 times that of the average workplace says senior inspector
Full-time dairy farms have become the most 'lethal' workplace in the country with the risk factor for fatal injury 24 times higher than that in the average workplace.
"Dairy farming is by far the riskiest job in the country at the moment and I think dairy farmers urgently need to do something about that," said Pat Griffin, senior inspector with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
Teagasc research has found that while dairying accounts for less than one-sixth of farms, fatal accidents on dairy farms now account for three out of every five farm fatalities.
Those most at risk are full-time dairy farmers aged 55 plus and working over 30ha. Mr Griffin said that the expansion in dairy farming could not be ruled out as a contributory factor to the 30 farm fatalities in 2014.
Round bales have also emerged as a new risk factor. They were responsible for eight farm deaths over the last two years, compared with none during the previous decade.
Another trend is that cows are now killing more farmers than bulls are.
"Cows kill more farmers than bulls at this stage. They are very unpredictable, particularly heifers calving for the first time and suckler cows," said Mr Griffin. An estimated 90pc of accidents occurred around yards and buildings, he said.
The most deadly hour on dairy farms is between 11am and 12 noon, leading to speculation among safety experts about tiredness and under-nourishment creating a black spot around noon.