In recent days, the Health and Safety Authority announced that work-related deaths in agriculture had fallen by 40%, with 15 deaths in total in 2018, as reported by That’sFarming here.
This means that agriculture remains the most dangerous working sector in the country and on the back of this news, the Health & Safety Executive of the IFA, William Shorthall, has announced the launch of the IFA’s peer-to-peer farm safety learning initiative, which will be rolled out in 2019.
Mr. Shorthall said the number of fatalities in 2018 should serve as a reminder of work that needs to be done in the area of farm safety.
“There were 15 farm fatalities in 2018, which is a stark message that we have more to do in this area.” He said.
“The peer-to-peer initiative is about encouraging farmers to undertake practical measures that will reduce the risk on their own farm”. William continued.
The Initiative -
The IFA are using the branch structure within their 29 County Executives to pilot the peer-to-peer farm safety learning initiative.
To date, the IFA have visited over 60 farms throughout the country. Farm visits have taken place in counties Tipperary, Clare, Wexford, Kildare and Limerick during the last three months of 2018 alone.
In their travels, they have visited a variety of farms, with a mixture of sizes and enterprises. These included single unit operations, either male or female, and family-run farms with children and elderly parents. Some enterprises included full-time employees. At almost every farm visited, the home-dwelling was located on or near the farmyard.
The groups range from between three and five members. Each group will then meet at one yard in particular, where they will hold a discussion on any near-miss incidents to have occurred in the past 12-18 months.
Groups will also be given an overview on who lives and works on the enterprise, as well as activities that take place on the farmyard. They will then get the opportunity to see every aspect of the farm through a farm walk, which will focus on three topics; Livestock housing and handling units, Machinery and Farmyard.
After the completion of the walk and discussion, the group will be given a “pros and cons” document to fill out based on what they observed on their farm walk. One item or behaviour should then be chosen by the host farmer that they aim to change before the next group meeting takes place.
This process is then repeated on the farms of each individual group member. A big part of this initiative is to improve co-operation between farmers at busy times of the year, especially when undertaking potentially dangerous tasks.
All members taking part in the pilot programme are doing so on a voluntary basis.