'Pure Lunacy': Silage contractors 'working round the clock' pleaded with to slow down as accidents peak

Fatalities on farms year to date are close to the total for 2018 and the Heath and Safety Authority has pleaded for a calming of the intensity of farm operations during the first cut silage season.
Fatalities on farms year to date are close to the total for 2018 and the Heath and Safety Authority has pleaded for a calming of the intensity of farm operations during the first cut silage season.

Martin Ryan

Silage harvesting, which hit near 'round the clock' operation on farms over the past week, has been described as "pure lunacy" as farm fatalities are heading towards setting a new national record for 2019.

Fatalities on farms year to date are close to the total for 2018 and the Heath and Safety Authority has pleaded for a calming of the intensity of farm operations during the first cut silage season.

"The silage season so far has become really bad (for accidents) and every second day we are now getting something dreadful in" Pat Griffn, HSA told the 'Farming Independent'.

"If you counted every fatality that has happened on a farm year to date, then we would be close to the total for last year or not very far from last year which is not good" he said.

Nine fatalities have been officially recorded as 'farming fatalities'  with at least five more which have occurred on farms under investigation, because "we have to prove that there was work involved and that there was employment or gain" to be classified as a farm fatality, he explained.

"We know that there wasn't a (silage) contractor to be got in the country over the past week, but if you combine very long working hours with fatigue and rushing from one job to another it is an absolute recipe for accidents to happen" Pat Griffin said.

"Contractors (and their employees) are working from 6am to midnight and beyond and that is lunacy, absolute lunacy and it is happening at the present" he said.

"Most people can cope with a few days of shortened sleep but once it gets past that you can become like a zombie and one of the big problems is that the contractors are finding it very hard to get enough competent drivers"  he added.

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He has called for farmers to engage in "a bit more planning and realising that everything has not to be done on the same day".

"Every survivor that I speak to says they had been pushing it a bit and shouldn't have done it.  When they have lost a leg or an arm it is too late and it may even have been worse. They could be paralysed for the rest of their life and all because of trying to do too much in the particular day" he said.

He praise the new Farm Safety initiative launched by the IFA with the appointment of Willie Shorthall as Safety Officer to work with farmer groups.

"It is an absolutely brilliant initiative and we really want to support the IFA and farmers in this because it could become the biggest element to farm safety" he said encouraging its roll out to every county executive asap.

The IFA programme organise farmers in groups of five or six, to visit each others farms and identify safety issues and discuss the elements of safety in an informal manner.

Online Editors


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