Safety warning as 11 die on farms this year already
FIVE times as many people have lost their lives on Irish farms this year as in the same period last year.
The shocking death rate has prompted an urgent call by government ministers for all farmers to make safety a top priority on their farms.
There have been 11 deaths already this year, which compares to just two in the same period last year, and risks can escalate over the summer during the busiest period on the farm.
The tragic deaths this year include 17-month-old Fionn Cashman from Co Cork who died last week after being struck by a tractor, while a young farmer in Co Wexford lost his life on Tuesday after being struck by a baler.
Tractors and machinery have been the main cause of death this year, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) said.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said he was aware of the pressures farmers were under but death and injury were a major concern, particularly as the busy silage-making season began.
"I understand the time and financial pressure that many farmers are under, many farmers work long hours alone. What good is all that hard work if an accident happens due to rushing or fatigue? The reality is taking risks with your life and limb is never worth it," he said.
Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said he was shocked at the high number of deaths already this year, and noted that although two people had died by this stage last year, the total number of farm fatalities in 2013 had reached 16.
"I am calling on all farmers and everyone involved in the industry to make safety a daily part of the working day," he said.
There have been four deaths already in May, said HSA chief executive Martin O'Halloran.
"Every year it is the same, tractors and machinery are the main cause of death on Irish farms. The message that we want to drive home is that anywhere that man and machinery interact, the potential for serious injury or death is amplified," he said.
The HSE urged farmers to carry out a five-minute check before starting a tractor on the tyres, brakes, hydraulics and visibility, with full details available on www.hsa.ie.
Safe systems were also needed including driving at the correct speed, stopping if you sensed danger, using the handbrake and switching the engine off when stopped, and being aware of hazards.