Make this a safe farming summer

Michael Kerins, FBD Tralee
Michael Kerins, FBD Tralee

At this time of the year, it can appear that every farm vehicle in the country is in action as farmers strive to replenish fodder reserves and take advantage of fine days to complete postponed tasks.

The summer season is also the traditional time when the farm's resources are bolstered by the presence of children on school holidays or local youths who are keen for work. This is the time when sheds get painted, briars get cut and calf sheds cleaned out.

While many of these young people are reared on farms and are familiar with the day to day routine, some are not. In many cases, they are from a rural background but have little experience of handling animals or farm equipment. Unfortunately it can be a recipe for accidents if proper care is not taken.

"Familiarity breeds contempt" is an oft quoted saying and is very applicable to farmers who sometimes assume that everyone knows how to handle a cow and calf or tractor and mower. That is not the case. Before allowing any person assume control of a farming situation, provide proper advice and training and point out the hazards. Furthermore, farmers should remain in a supervisory role until they have confirmed that the appointed person can safely handle any unforeseen issues.

Farms are busy workplaces - the presence of new workers or visitors needs to be considered at all times and suitable measures put in place, such as warning signs for delivery vehicles. Is there a gate leaning against a wall that could fall on a child with a bike? All potential hazards must be considered. By their nature, children love to explore so while leaving keys in jeeps and quads may suit the farmer's routine it is not a good practice when there are visiting children.

It is also the duty of the farmer to ensure that employees are provided with and wear the appropriate personal protective equipment for the work they are carrying out.

For everyone's sake, especially your own, be safety conscious on the farm this summer.

Finally, for the sake of your business, talk to the FBD team to ensure that appropriate insurance cover is in place for all activities taking place on the farm in this busy period. FBD's Farm Multiperil package includes options to include Employers Liability cover to cater for all employees including students and family members over 14 years of age. The policy can be extended to cater for voluntary workers as well.

Our Public Liability section in conjunction with appropriate Motor Insurance will cater for liability in respect of injuries to third parties arising from accidents on the farm or accidents caused by farming activity outside the farm or on the road.

For details and a thorough assessment of the farmer's insurance needs please contact your Local FBD office to arrange an appointment.

FBD Insurance plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.