Common causes of injuries or deaths in agriculture will be brought into focus by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), with the charity aiming to highlight techniques to make the profession safer for workers, their families and the general public.
More than 40 people have died working in the agricultural sector in Ireland since the start of 2014.
A further 33 farm workers were killed across the UK and Northern Ireland in 2014-15. Sixty-seven people lost their lives in work-related farming incidents in Northern Ireland between 2004 and 2013, including five children aged under 11.
It is against this backdrop that IOSH’s Ireland and Northern Ireland branches are inviting agricultural workers to attend a free farm and farmer safety event at Teagasc’s Ballyhaise Agricultural College, in Co Cavan, on 11 November.
Safety issues around chainsaws and tree felling, tractors, use of chemicals, animal management, farm building construction and electricity, and slurry management will be explored with the help of experts from the college, Coillte and farm building management company Kilmoon Trading.
Liam Howe, Chair of IOSH Ireland Branch, said: “The demonstrations highlight issues regularly faced by farm workers but it is not just farmers who are getting injured and killed. Their wives and children, as well as members of the general public, are also at risk.
“Agriculture currently has the highest number of accidents and deaths per year in Ireland. Education around improving farm and farmer safety is therefore a major priority.
“Through this event we want to support and build on the good work of the HSA, HSENI and other health services and organisations that are promoting initiatives to improve farm safety. We also recognise that IOSH, with nearly 2,000 members in Ireland, has a role to play in supporting farmers to work safely in an ever-changing and demanding profession.
“We thank Ballyhaise Agricultural College for their kind permission to utilise their facilities and expertise in order to stage this important event.”
The event – the first that the IOSH Ireland and Northern Ireland branches have jointly held on the issue of farm safety – will also see HSENI highlight new and emerging farm safety trends.
IOSH Northern Ireland has been actively supporting HSENI’s Farm Safety Action Plan. The strategy, which runs until March 2017, outlines how the regulator plans to support the local farming community promote safe working and good practice.
Richard McIvor, Chair of IOSH Northern Ireland Branch, said members will continue to work with and support the HSENI through its activities to help reduce injuries and deaths in the farming industry.
He said: “Farm safety is an issue with relevance in both Northern Ireland and Ireland. We hope the event and demonstrations will drive home simple and easy steps that all people involved in agriculture can take in order to make it a safer and healthier profession for all.”
Áine English, Chair of IOSH Ireland Branch’s Rural Industries Section, said: “I urge farmers, as well as anyone promoting safety and health in the agriculture sector, to attend these workshops.
“There will be a wide variety of demonstrations to watch and learn from. It is an opportunity to see highly trained specialists using safe working practises at first-hand, and to also discuss with them any challenges workers may be experiencing.”