Survivors share experience of life after farm accidents

Garda Adrian Nevin during a recent farm safety talk in Co Wexford
Garda Adrian Nevin during a recent farm safety talk in Co Wexford
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

While victims and survivors of farm accidents receive plenty of support when the accident occurs, it can be hard for them to adjust to day-to-day living in the months and years following it.

To help survivors and witnesses of farm accidents cope with the long-term after-effects, support charity Embrace Farm is holding its first Farm Accident Survivors' Conference on November 25 in the Midlands Park Hotel, Portlaoise from 12-3.30pm.

Three farm accident survivors will be telling their story - Kerrie Leonard, Richard O'Connell and Liam O'Keeffe. Meanwhile, families of survivors will be speaking about the impact the accident had on them and a number of key mental, rehabilitation and occupational health experts will also be offering advice and expertise on the day.

Organiser, Peter Gohery who lost his leg in a farm accident said that there are "deep-down issues" associated with farm accidents which affect both physical and mental health.

"Victims may not have any outward scars but they still suffer from post-traumatic stress and it's not just the victims themselves. A lot of the time it deeply affects those who witnessed the accident and these affects may not be felt for years afterwards," he says.

Issues surrounding prosthetics and adapting machinery will also be discussed as Peter says that those who have been affected by farm accidents try their best to be as independent as they can and get working on the farm again.

"A lot of the time people are put off by the costs of adaptations but it gives people peace of mind to be able to get around and drive their car or machine on their own. So we'll have someone there on the day to talk about them," he says.

Queries around insurance and finance will also be answered by professionals.

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Peter hopes that the Government considers introducing a mentoring scheme similar to the Swedish model that reduced farm accidents by 45pc over six years.

"The Government needs to give more practical advice that will keep people out of hospitals. We'd like the mentoring scheme to target all ages - young and old," he explains.

The HSA is also hosting a 'Protecting Your Life and Livelihood' conference on farm safety and health in the Auburn Lodge Hotel, Ennis on November 17. Speakers include Minister of State Andrew Breen, Teagasc Health and Safety advisor Dr John McNamara and John Comer of the ICMSA.

There will also be speakers discussing machinery safety, preventing livestock attacks, protecting your back, understanding fatality trends for future action and how Knowledge Transfer can help tackle farm safety.

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