Farm Ireland

Sunday 24 March 2019

Farmers urged to face health issues - Stress levels rising due to weather and financial worries

Pat Griffin
Pat Griffin

Ken Whelan

Farmers have been urged to take care of their mental health in the same way they would their physical well-being.

Paula McGovern, a HSE health care worker, said there was no shame in asking for help or peer support.

It comes as many farmers throughout the country are feeling pressure due to the current lack of grass growth, sodden fields and dwindling or no fodder stocks.

Ms McGovern told the attendance at a farmer well-being event in Cavan organised by CC Agricultural Consultants and the ICSA that they should develop "flexibility" in their ways of thinking to deal with their day-to-day occupational problems.

She said the weather would always continue to be a factor farmers would have to deal with.

At a time when many farmers are facing increased feed bills due to the long and harsh winter, Oliver Crowe of the ICSA said the way to solve financial problems was to "talk about them" and not to ignore the billing letters that come through the letterbox.

Dr Andrea Costa of Cavan General Hospital stressed that many farmers were prone to every day health problems caused by smoking and drinking.

But she urged caution in relation to potential workplace problems such as brucellosis, Lyme disease and Weil's disease.

Risk Assessment

Pat Griffin of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) said the State agencies were providing all the back-up on safety guidance and services needed nationally but ultimately it was down to individual farmers to ensure they had a safe working environment at their farming enterprises.

"When was the last time you carried out a risk assessment on your farm?"he asked the 100 farmers gathered at the conference.

"You'd do it for a Bord Bia inspection or one from the Department of Agriculture but it's time you did it for yourself," he added.

Out of the 24 most recent Irish farm deaths the majority involved people over the age of 60, while children and teenagers also lost their lives.

Mr Griffin also showed in stark detail the much greater amount of life changing farm accidents which left farmers wheelchair bound or without limbs.

The facts spoke for themselves, he said. Farming was by far the most dangerous work site in Ireland.

Kieran McGovern of CC Agricultural Consultants said there were routine precautions which farmers can take to avoid accidents caused by commonplace farm activity like lifting bags of cement or fertiliser or using ladders in farm sheds.

His general advice to farmers was to ensure that ladders and mobile scaffolding were fit for purpose.

Over the weekend a man in his late 60s lost his life in a farming accident at Moylough, Ballinasloe, Co Galway.

The death brings to five the number who have lost their lives so far this year.

Indo Farming

More in News