| 9.6°C Dublin

New safety rules rejected by farmers' organisations

Farm organisations have rejected suggestions that stricter farm safety regulations, fines or single farm payment sanctions should be introduced to tackle Ireland's appalling farm safety record.

Pat Griffin, senior agriculture inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, warned that the sector needed dedicated regulations to force farmers to make farms safer.

"If farmers had to complete two or three days of specific training to operate a tractor or machinery, the same way as on a building site, it would cost them a few hundred euro and focus their minds on safety," he maintained.

"Tractors and machinery are one of the biggest areas for farm accidents."

He added that single farm payment penalties or bonuses could be considered as a way of enforcing regulations.

ICMSA rural development chairman John O'Donnell said the 2010 statistics of 23 fatalities were devastating and hugely worrying.

However, he insisted there was no alternative to the slow and arduous process of changing farmers' mindsets through constant warnings and campaigns.

"Farmers are already groaning under the amount of deadlines and regulations they have to meet," he said.

"The last -- the very last -- thing we should do to address the issue of farm accidents is to load yet another raft of regulations or deadlines onto men and women that are already dizzy from dealing with what's there now."

The IFA also maintained that awareness programmes around the importance of farm safety were the best way to reduce the risk for those living, visiting and working on farms.

Meetings of the 29 IFA county executives and 945 branches will focus on farm safety in the coming months, a spokesman confirmed.

Irish Independent