Tuesday, January 17, 2023

By Suzanne Pender

JOHN McNamara, health and safety specialist Teagasc, has urged all farmers to review farm safety practices on their farms this January, to ensure a safe working environment for farm families in 2023.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has reported 12 fatal farm workplace accidents in 2020. This represents half (50%) the total of all workplace fatalities (26) in 2022.

It takes some time for the HSA to receive and investigate workplace deaths, so further fatal accidents may be reported for 2022; therefore, the fatal workplace accident data for 2022 is currently provisional.

Of the fatal farm workplace accidents to date in 2022, 59% (seven) were to persons aged 65 or older; 33% (four) were among persons aged 55 to 64 years, and 8% (one) was in the 45 to 54-year-old category.

Occupation is now used for classification of workplace fatal accidents, and one fatality occurred at an off-farm workplace.

Major causes associated with farm workplace fatalities to date in 2022 are farm vehicles and machinery, 59% (seven); falls from heights and falling objects, 33% (four); and slurry drowning, 8% (one).

Tragically, a fatal farm accident associated with a tractor has occurred on 2 January 2023 to a young farmer in his twenties.

Key safety messages from 2022 data include:

  • Particular attention needs to be paid to the safety of senior farmers. Family members can greatly assist such persons by discussing practical risk assessment
  • Moving vehicles such as tractors, teleporters and ATVs pose a high risk to persons in close vicinity of them
  • Use operating techniques to keep farm vehicles under control at all times
  • Park vehicles safely and particularly ensure that they cannot roll forwards or backwards
  • Take precautions when accessing heights such as hay or straw stacks or roofs
  • Watch out for insecure loads at heights which can fall and kill
  • Ensure that slurry and water tanks are securely fenced
  • Over the winter months, darkness increases risk.

Farmers should complete or update their Risk Assessment Document at the start of the year and implement any actions necessary for health and safety on the farm.

Teagasc, in association with FBD Insurance and the HSA, has recently released a series of short video entitled ‘Managing farm health and safety’. These are available online at https://www.teagasc.ie/rural-economy/farm-management/farm-health–safety/videos/

 

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