Farm deaths only 'tip of the iceberg' as farmers regularly left with life-changing injuries - HSA

Pat Griffin Director of the HSA
Pat Griffin Director of the HSA
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The Health and Safety Authority has said that farm fatalities are only the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to farm safety as farmers are left with life-changing injuries from farm accidents on a regular basis.

This follows the death of young farmer, Martin Keogh in Foulksmills, Co Wexford yesterday involving a molasses tank. He is understood to have been changing a pipe at the time of the tragedy.

Director of the Heath and Safety Authority (HSA) Pat Griffin told the Irish Independent that while a lot is being done in relation to farm safety that more still needs to be achieved to prevent farm fatalities and accidents.

 “Fatalities keep happening and the sad thing is that we have a banner up here today that says there has been 197 deaths over the last ten years but that has increased to 199 in the last week due to the tragic accident in Wexford yesterday and one in Monaghan last week.

We’ve still a quarter of the year to go and that seems to be the tip so the iceberg as you’ve got huge levels of accidents on farms where people are left with life-changing injuries like amputations so it’s still a problem for us.”

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He explained that more needs to be done on the ground to help farmers think about safety and that inspections alone are no enough to encourage farm safety.

“Things have changed over the last number of years. I do think farmers are thinking about safety more. We have our revised farm safety code which we encourage farmers to follow and to go to the Teagasc half day safety course.

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Minister for Rural Affairs, Michael Ring TD. Photo: Tom Burke
Minister for Rural Affairs, Michael Ring TD. Photo: Tom Burke

“More needs to be done to help farmers on the ground. We can’t inspect 140,000 farms each year, it’s not physically viable,” he said.

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Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring added that farmers need to make farm safety their number one priority when working on the farm and expressed his sympathies to the Keogh family in Co Wexford.

“I want to sympathise with his family. The HSA and the Minister for Agriculture are encouraging farmers together with the IFA to try and increase safety on farms. Every life that’s lost is a loss to a family and very tragic. In my own constituency we’ve had a number of tragic accidents.

 “It has to be the number one aspect of any farm and farmers have to make sure that any protocol they have in place puts safety first.”

Macra President James Healy also said that farm accidents often go unnoticed by Irish society and that steps need to be taken by farmers before they undertake any potentially dangerous activity on the farm.

He explained: “Accidents happen but they’re often preventable and the more steps that we take even if it’s only two minutes to think about something those few minutes could be what save your life.

"It’s important for farmers to assess the dangers before they do the job as that could be the difference between them living or dying.

"The accidents are a big problem too as they pass under the radar. Farm deaths make the news and everybody hears about it and is very sad, with a farm accident that person is living with the consequences for the rest of their lives.”

 According to the HSA a total of 17 farm deaths have occurred in 2017. In recent years 19 people on average have been killed each year in farm related accidents.

While 2014 was the worst year in over 20 years with 30 fatalities, 21 deaths in farms were recorded in 2016. So far this year two-thirds of the fatalities that occurred on farms involved farmers aged 65 or over.

Online Editors

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