Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 23 September 2018

'People are now driving a tractor while answering an email. That’s not appropriate' warns safety expert

Farmers Vincent and Philip Hughes Ballinkillen pulling beet before the rain on Saturday 12th Jan. The crop of Enermax produced 25ton per acre, the field was facing north could result in a low yield.Photo Roger Jones.
Farmers Vincent and Philip Hughes Ballinkillen pulling beet before the rain on Saturday 12th Jan. The crop of Enermax produced 25ton per acre, the field was facing north could result in a low yield.Photo Roger Jones.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Farmers and contractors need to be aware of the increased safety risks that technology can introduce to the farm, a leading risk manager has warned.

Speaking at the recent Professional Agricultural Contractors of Ireland Conference, FBD Risk Manager, Ciaran Roche told delegates that while technology can help make farm work more efficient, it can also add increased safety risks, in particular as far as the mobile phone is concerned.

“It’s really important that you’re aware of new risks that have developed out of technology such as the mobile phone. People are now driving a tractor while answering an email. That’s not appropriate,” he said.

“With mobile phones there is new risk and the new risk here is distraction and to be aware of that. I constantly see people driving tractors on the road and using mobile phones whether it’s held to their ear or in front of them.”

Mr Roche added that “with bigger machines comes bigger risk” and even with improved technology such as speed limiters and roll-over detection, technology can fail.

“Machines are getting bigger and stronger and doing significantly more damage. There's a cyber risk to new technology and there’s no human intelligence and if there’s a failure in the system what’s going to happen?” he warned.

"Don’t think you’re bullet proof, the same safety precautions should still be followed. There can be failure in design in technologies.”

He also warned that agriculture is “one of the few industries where we have child fatalities” and that just because allowing a child under seven to sit in your tractor is a norm in the industry, that doesn’t mean you should do it.

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“Most farmers and contractors understand the risk but they often take the chance whether they’re under stress or time pressure or there’s a financial cost to it. We do know that people are more likely to take a chance if it’s a norm in the industry,” he pointed out.

“ If everyone in the industry gives a young child a ride on a tractor under the age of seven, which they shouldn’t, it’s seen as being acceptable and OK. If something is unsafe there needs to be a change.”

Mr Roche urged that farmers and contractors carry out risk assessment on the Health and Safety Authority’s risk assessment website BeSMART.ie before carrying out farm work.


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