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Sunday 18 November 2018

Calls for stand-alone farm safety body for agri sector

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Fianna Fail is calling for a stand along safety body for the agricultural sector in its new Farm Safety Agency Bill.

Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and Marine, Senator Paul Daly has today launched the Farm Safety Agency Bill 2018 in Seanad Éireann. The aim of the bill is the creation of a stand-alone body focused on improving safety for Irish farmers and their families. 

“With more than half of all workplace fatalities in Ireland last year taking place in the farming sector, a new body to drive safety reforms is needed. Too many farmers have lost their lives or sustained serious injuries on Irish farms over the years and the situation seems to be getting worse," he said.

He said that with about 140,000 family farms in Ireland, each of which is a place of work, but the average farm is very different to other workplaces in that in very many cases they are also homes where children, working adults and the elderly all live together. 

“Furthermore, there are a huge number of risks present on farms that can cause significant damage.  They include, for instance, operating heavy machinery and vehicles, exposure to dangerous chemicals and gases and handling unpredictable livestock. 

"Managing a farm is very demanding work and unfortunately health and safety concerns often take a back seat when farmers face competing priorities."

At the moment, various bodies share responsibility for farm safety issues, yet there has been little or no improvement in the area, he said. 

"Without real accountability it seems that the issue slips between the cracks. A standalone farm safety agency would build trust with the farming community and work closely with all stakeholders in the farming sector to devise and implement long-term policies and programmes to bring about positive change." 

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