Two thirds of farm deaths this year have involved farmers over 60
Seventeen farm deaths have been recorded by the Health and Safety Authority this year and 10 of those have involved people in their 60s or older.
Figures at the Health and Safety Authority Farm Safety conference in Carlow show that of the 17 farm deaths this year, almost half involved agricultural machinery.
Eight of the deaths involved a tractor of farm vehicle, while 5 (29pc) of the deaths involved animals, the conference was told.
Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen called on farmers to drive behavioural change from within the industry.
“Agriculture is among the most hazardous occupations in Ireland with the sector consistently having the highest number of fatalities compared with other work activities. Regrettably, 17 people have lost their lives this year due to farm accidents.
"Remarkably this single sector accounts for almost 45pc of all deaths that have occurred in all workplaces this year. While I see some evidence of an increase in awareness and engagement with farm safety, there is still clearly much work still to be done."
Dr Sharon McGuinness, CEO of the HSA told the conference that while her organisation recognises the challenges farmers and farm families face, the number of elderly persons being killed on farms is deeply concerning.
“Young children are reared and grow up there and tragically elderly farmers are all too often caught up in serious and fatal accidents. So far this year eight farmers aged 70 and over have been killed in accidents. This does not happen in any other industry."
Figures from the conference show that Galway and Tipperary both saw three farm fatalities occur to date this year, the most in any county.