Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Majority of power-shaft injuries avoidable, health seminar told

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

THE MAJORITY of farmers who suffered serious power-shaft injuries had previous experience working with a power take-off (PTO).

A national patient study has revealed that in more than 80pc of farm accidents involving power shafts, the shaft was unprotected at the time.

Dr Anne Collins, a specialist registrar in plastic surgery at University Hospital Galway, said time constraints and loose clothing were also implicated in 40pc of injuries.

Speaking at the national seminar on health and safety in agriculture, Dr Collins advised farmers to give health and safety the attention it deserved.

"In the case of traumatic injury involving farm machinery, plastic surgeons do the very best they can to restore severed limbs and body parts, but our efforts very often have limitations in restoring the human body to its original state," she said.

Dr Collins said the survivability with power-shaft injures declined as farmers grew older. The average age of a fatal power-shaft victim was 46 years compared with 28 years for a survivor.

Accidents with machinery account for 32pc of fatalities on Irish farms and a significant amount of accidents involve human entanglement on power shafts.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) enforced some level of action in relation to machinery in 72pc of inspections so far this year. In about half of these, verbal advice was given, but the remainder required written or formal enforcement actions.

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Issues relating to machinery have attracted the highest number of prohibition activity, at 6pc, and, says the HSA, many of these related to PTOs.

Slurry handling and livestock concerns accounted for 53pc and 50pc, respectively, of actions taken by HSA inspectors against farmers.

The authority said that despite increased knowledge, there was a continuing failure to fully and adequately address the key known hazards on many farms, particularly in the areas of machinery safety and slurry handling.

Irish Independent