LIVESTOCK farmers must ensure they have proper plans in plan to ensure their safety during what is traditionally one of the busiest periods on their calendars.
That’s the thrust of a new inspection campaign being undertaken by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), which will focus on the safe management of livestock during calving season, when they say the risk of injury to farmers “increases significantly.
HAS figures show that over the past decade 196 people have died across Ireland while undertaking farm related activities, with 38 of these deaths involving livestock.
HSA senior inspector Pat Griffin said that while 2021 did see a significant drop farm fatalities, there were still too many deaths and serious injures happening across the agri-sector each year.
“Working with livestock is a key incident trigger and farmers must make their physical safety an absolute priority. During this time of year, which includes the calving period, increased fatigue and stress levels are common,” said Mr Griffin.
“However, early planning and preparation can make a significant difference in the safe management of livestock and help prevent injury or even death,” he added.
Mr Griffin said there is a key checklist of questions people working with livestock need to tick off, key among this being is there a plan to minimise the risk of attack?
He said essential steps to take include ensuring adequate physical barriers are in place between farmers and a freshly calved cow when tagging, treating and handling calves; making sure there is enough lighting in yard and farm buildings and putting in place adequate facilities for loading and unloading animals.
Perhaps, most importantly farmers need to make sure trained and experienced help is at hand should they need it.
“We know that, on dairy farms in particular, farmers may be managing larger herds of livestock. There must therefore be enough space and shelter for the number, size and class of cattle being held,” said Mr Griffin.
“During this calving season we urge farmers to plan ahead and put safety measures in place as cows, and in particular heifers, can be unpredictable before, during or after calving and may become aggressive,” he added.
For more information and advice about farm safety visit www.hsa.ie.