Health and safety on farms

Figures released by the Republic of Irelands HSA and Northern Irelands HSENI show that more needs to be done across the island to tackle farm related deaths.

Figures released by Irelands health and safety authority show that the number of farm fatalities in Ireland has fallen by 40 per cent in 2015. However, in Northern Ireland, farm fatalities were on the rise.

In Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority claims that the fall is due to safety initiatives organised by farming organisations and the Department of Agriculture. In 2015 both the farming organisations and the Department of Agriculture engaged in extensive media and promotional campaigns to encourage farmers to consider their farm safety procedures.

In total, 18 deaths were reported on farms in Ireland in 2015 compared to 30 in 2014. There were four child fatalities in Irelands workplaces in 2015, all of which occurred in the agriculture industry and this has been accredited to the fact that farms are homes as well as workplaces.

Speaking about the improving figures, the Health and Safety Authoritys Assistant Chief Executive, Brian Higginson claimed that whilst the decrease is welcome, more still needs to be done to improve farm safety. All work-related deaths are tragic and while we must cautiously welcome the reduction in agriculture fatalities, it is still the most dangerous occupation and that needs to change, he said.

There are high levels of safety and health awareness in Irish workplaces and we must ensure that this translates to changes in behaviour and fewer accidents in all the sectors this year.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, the latest figures released show that during

2014-15 nine people lost their lives in work-related incidents on farms. This figure is a large increase on the 2013-14 figure of four farm deaths but is lower than the 11 farm fatalities recorded in 2012-13.

Of those who tragically lost their lives on Northern Irish farms, the majority were in their 70s. The youngest two people who died were aged 23 and eight. Reflecting on the loss, HSENIs Chief Executive, Keith Morrison claimed more needs to be done to tackle the risk taking culture so prevalent within the farming community.

Farming still has a poor safety record, with more fatalities across all age groups compared with other industries, he said. Not only did nine people die on our farms last year, since 2000 there have been 102 farming deaths in Northern Ireland. This is a shocking record and needs to be tackled by all of us. We must all work every day to stop this needless heartache.

While the HSENI and partners will continue our efforts to eradicate farm accidents, farmers must also play their part by taking responsibility for safety on their farms. By working together we can develop a positive, preventative culture where safety is built in to every farm.

At present the agriculture sector in Northern Ireland employs approximately 48,000 people working on 24,200 farms with approximately 55 per cent of farmers classified as being employed full-time on their farm.

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