| 18.5°C Dublin

Farmers warned to invest in safety or risk death

THE Health and Safety Authority has urged farmers to invest in safety measures and training to prevent deaths on their farms.

As the National Ploughing Championships get under way in Co Wexford, senior inspector of the authority Pat Griffin said people must not forget the dangers of farming machinery.

"I want to call on farmers to invest in themselves," said Mr Griffin.

"If they invest some money in safety, invest some money in training and invest some money in safety about the farm, I think we would prevent an awful lot of deaths with tractors and machinery."

Mr Griffin said 50pc of farming deaths are caused by tractors and machinery. He added that 14 people have been killed this year alone in farming accidents, while there were 22 deaths in 2011.

He also warned of the dangers of toxic slurry gases, following the deaths of 22-year-old Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence and his brother Graham and father Noel.

They died this month after they were overcome by poisonous fumes in a slurry tank at their farm in Hillsborough, Co Down.

Mr Griffin said farmers often underestimate the risks involved with slurry gas because they do not know the full facts.

"Slurry gas is very toxic and one lung full can kill," he said.

He explained that at a low dose, slurry gas smells like rotten eggs.

"But it kills the sense of smell so we think the gases have disappeared, but your sense of smell has been killed - the gases are still there," he added.

Meanwhile, gardai have warned road users travelling to the National Ploughing Championships at Heathpark in New Ross to take extra care due to heavy rainfall and wind along the east coast.

AA Roadwatch also warned there may be a lot of surface water and urged motorists to take their time when driving, while roads in some parts of the country have experienced flooding.

Around 190,000 people are expected to attend the event over the next three days – one of the biggest events in the country.

Livestock, machinery, food and fashion will be among the highlights of the event, which has become the largest of its kind in Europe.

Spectators will also take in a host of ploughing competitions.

President Michael D Higgins will officially open the event today at noon, while Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to attend on Thursday.