More safety inspectors to be hired in bid to reduce farm deaths

Farm tragedy: Martin Kehoe Jr. Photo: Frank McGrath
Farm tragedy: Martin Kehoe Jr. Photo: Frank McGrath
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Safety bosses have been granted permission to hire more inspectors as they try to curb the number of fatalities on Irish farms.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) will hire 11 more inspectors by the end of this year.

So far this year there have been 18 deaths on farms, including the loss of former champion ploughman Martin Kehoe (33) on the family's Wexford farm as the National Ploughing Championships was under way in the midlands.

A HSA spokesman said the inspectors would be targeted at areas where they were needed most, such as agriculture. However, it would be deploying the resources to a number of areas.

"It is about increasing awareness and bringing about a cultural change. This is not going to be resolved by inspectors on farms, it is mostly education," he said, adding that changing the mindset of the farming community was key.

The HSA annual workplace fatality statistics report a stubbornly high number of farming workplace deaths in 2016, despite a drop of more than 20pc in workplace fatalities across all sectors.

Farming continues to have one of the poorest safety records in Ireland - last year 21 people lost their lives.

Farm safety experts fear that if the number of farm deaths continues at the same rate, the number of deaths could be as bad as 2014 when 30 people died on Irish farms.

Farm Safety Week staged earlier this year urged farmers to take time out during their busy week to examine their farming practices and assess the safety of routine tasks.

Irish Independent