The sixth annual Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland, an initiative that aims to reduce the number of accidents on farms and bring about a change in culture officially kick starts today with a branch new approach.
The message for this year’s campaign which is being led in the Republic of Ireland by the IFA and supported by numerous agencies is Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice.
This year rather than focusing on agriculture’s poor safety record and stories of things going wrong, Farm Safety Week 2018 will start talking about when things go right; sharing good practice and demonstrating what ‘good’ looks like.
Last year, 24 lost their lives in farm accidents, while 11 people have died in farm accidents, so far this year.
Reacting to these figures, Joe Healy, IFA President said:
“The statistics are stark but statistics don’t tell the whole story – they don’t tell you about the devastating impact a farm fatality has on families and communities; they don’t tell you the impact a farm accident can have on the rest of your life, on your ability to run the farm”.
IFA Health and Safety Executive
The IFA has announced the appointment of William Shortall as IFA Health and Safety Executive to lead farm safety promotion and the new peer-to-peer mentoring initiative.
The farmers who get involved in the initiative will help to mentor each other by, for example, walking each other’s farms to identify potential risks and visualise how safety works in a real-life situation.
William has worked as a Regional Development Officer with IFA since 2007 and will formally take up the new role on September 1st.
“Most dangerous sector”
Sharon McGuinness, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority said: “Farming is still the most dangerous sector in which to work and although awareness of the issues is high, we’re not seeing this translate into a sustained reduction in fatalities.”
“Farmers must take responsibility to prioritise safety, especially when working with tractors and machinery which are the biggest cause of fatal accidents. Farmers should keep all machinery in good working order and have the necessary competence and experience to operate.”
Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine outlined: “There are a lot of risks in farming but farming doesn’t have to be a dangerous occupation if you are aware of the risks.”
“We have definitely seen an increased awareness of farm safety, thanks to initiatives like Farm Safety Week, and now we need to build this awareness into action and behavioural change.”
He noted that farmers are very busy, particularly at this time of year, but said: “it’s important to take some time to think about what could improve safety on your farm and in your work practices and then to follow through and make those changes.”
Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen has welcomed the inclusion of a mental health element to the campaign theme stating that “While farmers are used to caring for, and nurturing their land and their animals they can at the same time neglect their own health.
As part of Farm Safety Week 2018, Minister Breed called on all farmers to “take a step back and to take better care of themselves both physically and mentally and to do so, not just for themselves, but also for the families and friends who depend on them”.
Gerry Boyle, Director Teagasc highlighted said that this year’s theme reflects the importance of farm health and safety and the fact that practical engagement of farmers’ is essential for progress.
Teagasc is supporting a new a four-year PhD Walsh Fellowship on farmer cardiovascular health improvement in association with IT Carlow Centre for Men’s Health, Irish Heart Foundation and the UCD College of Health and Agricultural Sciences.”