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Peter Hynes: Many more lives will be lost if our farming leaders don't make safety their top priority

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Peter and Paula Hynes pictured with the award on their farm Aherla, Co. Cork.  Picture: Clare Keogh

Peter and Paula Hynes pictured with the award on their farm Aherla, Co. Cork. Picture: Clare Keogh

Make sure to have a fully functional PTO guard

Make sure to have a fully functional PTO guard

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Peter and Paula Hynes pictured with the award on their farm Aherla, Co. Cork. Picture: Clare Keogh

Our first-cut silage is safely in the clamp. We cut 108 acres, which yielded over 800 tonne and was all treated with Ecosyl silage additive.

We have been aiming for better-quality forage as we have been reducing protein percentage in the dairy ration in a further effort to reduce farm emissions.

We have closed a further 80 acres for second-cut silage and we will make upwards of 700 bales over the next few months.

We are well into week four of the breeding season. Our 21-day submission rate is 96pc, which is definitely the highest we have ever achieved.

We are monitoring cows and heifers closely, but repeats seem quiet at the moment so hopefully it will stay that way.

Farm safety is something that is really starting to worry me.

There are headlines almost every other day about tragic deaths and serious farm accidents.

Fourteen lives have been lost on Irish farms so far in 2020 and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones.

It is a startling figure, but it's not the first time Irish farming has been in this position. From 2010-19 there were 214 fatalities on our farms; 10pc of those involved children, while 40pc involved older farmers. There were 104 fatalities caused by tractors and farm machinery.

And behind these figures there are hundreds of devastated families and heartbroken parents and children who grow up without a parent.

It goes without saying the farms are the most dangerous workplace environment.

While the majority of us have family farms, the key word in the above sentence is workplace.

No other industry allows children in the workplace, so how do we combine family farming with a busy farm?

Firstly, children should not be allowed around yards where machinery is working, nor should they be around when livestock are being moved. There are safe areas in every farmyard where children can enjoy farm life once they are accompanied by an adult.

Alma Jordan of Agrikids has achieved amazing results in educating children on farm safety, having visited 274 schools and shared her passion for safer farming with over 28,000 children.

If one woman can achieve those results in a few short years, what could the entire farm sector achieve on safety if it really put its mind to it?

The whole industry needs to put politics aside in the drive for safer farms.

Farm safety requires a leader who will make things happen as opposed to too many organisations just talking about what could or should be done.

If urgent action is not taken, many more lives will be lost; Embrace Farm will be left supporting many more heartbroken families.

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Fines will inevitably be imposed by HSA or EU if we continue to be a laggard on safety.

And while we need national leadership on this issue, each of us has the power to make real differences on our farms.

Why not grab a pen and paper today, and walk through the farmyard looking for all those dangerous areas?

Dangerous bulls

Do all machines have fully functional PTO guards? Do you have a quad helmet? Does the stock bull have a nose ring along with a chain if required? Ultimately if there is a dangerous bull on farm, the best place for him is the factory before it is too late.

Even though we are safety-conscious on our farm I find myself having a fresh look at what can be improved.

Thankfully our silage contractor doesn't allow passengers in tractors and I also feel it is my responsibility to ensure there isn't a crowd of spectators hanging around while they are busy at silage.

I'll leave you with this thought: when you look at farm safety, make the changes required today - tomorrow might be too late.


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