Earlier this week, the IFA (Irish Farmers' Association) announced details of its peer-to-peer farm safety learning initiative which the organisation hopes to roll out this year.
IFA’s Health & Safety Executive - William Shortall said that peer-to-peer initiative is about encouraging farmers to undertake practical measures that will reduce the risk on their own farm.
Commenting on the figures released earlier this week by the Health and Safety Authority, he said: “There were 15 farm fatalities in 2018, which is a stark message that we have more to do in this area."
The total number of fatalities were at the lowest level since the formation of the HSA; farm fatalities remain the highest, but were down by 40% on the 2017 figure. The HSA said that farmers are nine times more likely to be killed at work than any other profession.
Farm safety learning initiative
IFA is using the branch structure within its 29 County Executives to pilot the peer-to-peer farm safety learning initiative. The organisation visited over 60 farms in counties Tipperary; Clare; Wexford; Kildare and Limerick during the last three months of 2018.
The farms which have been visited are a mixture of enterprises and sizes; they include single-unit operations, either male or female, and family-run farms with children and elderly parents and some include full-time employees.
In all the farms that were visited, the dwelling house was situated on the farmyard or a very short distance from the farmyard, the IFA said.
The groups are between three and five members. The group meets in one particular yard where a discussion takes place of any ‘near miss’ which may have occurred in the last 12 to 18 months.
There is also an overview given of who lives and works on the farm and what activities take place on the farmyard. A walk of the farm then takes place and the following areas are focused on - Livestock housing and handling unit; machinery; farmyard; and workshop.
The particular farmer is given a ‘pros and cons’ document to fill out based on what the group observe around the farm. The farmer then chooses one item or behaviour they will change before the group reconvenes. This process is repeated on each of the individual farms in the group. All members taking part in the pilot are doing so on a voluntary basis.
As part of these visits, a bigger emphasis is on co-operation between farmers at busy times of the year and when carrying out dangerous tasks.