24pc hospitalised due to serious farm accidents
As farm fatalities hit the highest level in more than a decade this week, Farming Independent figures show that one-in-four full-time farmers have been hospitalised due to a work-related accident.
Two people died in farm accidents in the last seven days, with another child in a critical condition in hospital following another horrific accident in north Cork at the weekend.
Her eight-year-old friend was killed when they were struck by a loader bucket at Newtownshandrum on Sunday. Last Wednesday a 60-year-old woman was trampled to death by cattle on a farm in Roscommon.
The level of under-reporting of serious farm accidents is a major cause of concern for the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). Figures from the State agency show that despite farm fatalities accounting for over 40pc of all work-place accidents, reports of farm accidents account for just 1pc of the 7,000 accidents reported every year.
"We don't want people to report farm accidents just so that we can tick a box - it will actually help us to figure out where we should be concentrating our accident prevention efforts," said HSA spokesman, Mark Ryan.
"We know that self-employed people that are hospitalised as a result of a work-place accident are more worried about keeping the bills paid than reporting the incident to us. That's the same across all occupations, but there is a legal requirement on people to report accidents that result in them being hospitalised for more than three days," he said.
"Farmers have nothing to fear from reporting an accident. Yes, there could be an inspection, but these are mainly to allow HSA staff to point out what needs to be improved. Our job is to make people welcome safety initiatives, not dread them," said Mr Ryan.
The Farming Independent survey of 1,009 farmers was carried out at the National Ploughing Championships. While almost 19pc of those surveyed said they had been involved in a farm accident that required hospital treatment, this figure rose to 24pc for the 455 full-time farmers who answered the questionnaire.