'We cannot emphasise how important it is to complete this document' - Farmers legal obligations on safety

John McNamara (far right), Teagasc Health & Safety Specialist discusses ATV with farmers at a recent Teagasc and HSA farm safety event in Clonakilty. Photo O’Gorman Photography
John McNamara (far right), Teagasc Health & Safety Specialist discusses ATV with farmers at a recent Teagasc and HSA farm safety event in Clonakilty. Photo O’Gorman Photography

Matt O'Sullivan

Last week was Farm Safety Week, an initiative run by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) and supported by the Health and Safety Authority (H.S.A).

This was the fifth annual farm safety week and something that all organisations involved in the agricultural sector should be continuously promoting.

However, farm safety is something that needs to be promoted every day of the year and not just highlighted every few weeks. The agricultural sector still remains one of the most dangerous sectors to work in with unacceptably high levels of farm accidents and fatalities every year.

One of the first steps in helping to achieve a safe farm is for farmers to adhere to the Farm Safety Code of practice and to review their Farm Risk Assessment document. The H.S.A has issued a revised version of the Code of Practice for Preventing Injury and Occupational Ill-Health in Agriculture. This document is more commonly known as the Farm Safety Code of Practice.

The revised Code reflects technical progress in the sector, changes in farming practice, equipment and accident trends since 2006. The revised code has a green cover to distinguish it from the previous version and is available from the H.S.A and Teagasc. The revised version must be completed since the 1st January 2019.

The revised Code of Practice is designed help farmers meet their duties under the relevant law in a straight forward and practical way. It focuses in on the most common hazards and provides workable solutions that can be put in place with minimal to zero cost.

The Code is comprised of two documents - a Guidance document and a working Risk Assessment Document (RAD). Both documents can be obtained from the HSA and from Teagasc websites.

It is important to note that it is a legal requirement to have an up-to-date Risk Assessment Document, and a H.S.A Inspector can inspect the document on a farm visit.

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Completion of the RAD is also a requirement for participation in Bord Bia Quality Assurance Schemes. We cannot emphasise how important it is to complete this document.

A half day safety training course or having completed a safety module as part of a green cert course with in the last five years is also a requirement for anyone availing of TAMS grants.

Completion of this simple RAD document is a very worthwhile exercise and it will highlight the possible hazards on your farm that some of us may overlook on the farm on a daily basis. For farms that are employing people on a full time basis the legislation requires that a full safety statement is completed. In 2019 so far, 12 farm deaths

have taken place, according to provisional H.S.A. figures. Trends in farm fatal accidents indicate that July is the most dangerous month of the year with 17% of fatalities.

Farms are busy places during the summer months especially when schools are closed and there are more people to think about. The hazards on farms are everywhere, from working with tractors, ATV's, Jeeps, Farm Machinery, Handling and moving

Livestock, Working with Slurry, and working at heights. This list is endless and the hazards are everywhere.

Farms are constantly changing work places throughout the year where work load varies depending on the weather and the season. Safety is secured by the vigilance of farmers to identify hazardous situations which may arise.

Take the time to assess your farm and complete a risk assessment document. It could save you a lot of time in the long run.

Corkman


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