Today marks the end of the seventh annual Farm Safety Week, and Joe Healy, Irish Farmers Association President, outlines the gravity of the situation in the Republic of Ireland, why the IFA has appointed a full time Farm Health and Safety Executive and what they are hoping to achieve with this weeks series of family farm safety events.
“Here in Ireland, Farm Safety Week is a true collaboration and has been supported by a number of agencies, including the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), Teagasc and members of the Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee as well as countless others on social media.
“This week, we had a number of family farm safety events throughout Ireland showcasing how simple practices can improve farm safety. We especially focused on practices that don’t cost money. Often when in discussion with farmers this is where the conversation ends up…” the cost of it”
“As a farming representative organisation, we are grossly aware of the low incomes currently being sustained by farmers in Ireland, but this cannot be the reason not to be proactive in our approach to farm safety. Farming continues to have one of the poorest safety records of any sector in Ireland, last year 15 people lost their lives in farm incidents and 10 people have lost their lives so far in 2019.
“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 life-changing farm injury can have on the rest of your life and on your ability to run the farm.
“Understanding the risks on, and around, a farm operation makes it easier to avoid dangers, and makes incidents less likely. However, all too often, farmers do not recognise the risks on their farms, which makes it difficult to manage the problem.
“That is why, in 2018, IFA appointed a Farm Health and Safety Executive to implement a pilot farmer-to-farmer peer learning initiative at branch level, to advise farmers about potential risks and educate them to become safety ambassadors within their communities. The farmers involved in the initiative 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.
“This kind of informal learning has been shown to be effective because the people involved have the potential to adapt the programme to meet their needs and develop their own approaches to improve safety on the farm.
“The goal for all farmers in every country, should be, to get home to their families safe and sound every night.
“So remember, when carrying out any task on a farm, is it safe and is there a safer way of doing it?”
For more information please visit www.ifa.ie/cross-sectors/farm-family/farm-safety