Exercise extreme caution: Warning issued over storm damage repairs on farms
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is urging farmers involved in storm repair to exercise extreme caution over the coming days.
It urged farmers to “make their personal safety paramount.”
It asked farmers to wear footwear with good grips and visability jackets.
Pathways to machinery and sheds should also be cleared to reduce the risk of slips and falls.
Following the melting of the snow from the roofs of farm sheds and other workplace buildings, farmers and workers will need to access roofs to check for damage and leaks.
The Health and Safety Authority is advising that workers must only access roof spaces with caution and follow these safety precautions:
- Repairs to roofs must only be done by competent roof repair specialists;
- Plan and organise the roof repair work before carrying out the repairs;
- Ensure the correct working at height equipment is used;
- Ensure the risks from fragile roof surfaces are properly controlled e.g. on translucent sheeting and asbestos tiled roofs;
- Do not use ladders for roof repair work;
- Only use ladders as a means of access to the roof.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said the harsh weather conditions had left a trail of destruction and the Department of Agriculture was focused both on the horticulture sector and damage to farm sheds.
However, the minister stressed he expected insurance companies to step up and pay out on claims, with farmers facing significant costs from the collapse of sheds, greenhouses shattered, polytunnels torn, burst water pipes, animal losses and damaged milking parlours.
Mr Creed pointed out the first port of call for farmers with collapsed sheds should be their insurer. However, he said the TAMS II capital grants scheme would prioritise those regions worst affected where there were applications for planning for new sheds.
“There are insurable and uninsurable losses and damage particularly in the areas of polytunnels for example and my Department is considering reopening a capital grants scheme that we have had to help these people get back on their feet,” he said, adding glasshouses were an insurable loss.
“I’m not going to step into the breach where insurance companies should be paying out,” he told Newstalk radio.
Mr Creed said FBD had already stressed it was anxious to be as helpful as possible and he urged the key players in the insurance market to get assessors on the ground as swiftly as possible.
“I think it is abundantly clear in the context of climate change we are facing into a time where we are going to get more extreme and volatile weather events like this,” he said.