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Practical demos to feature at farm safety event at UCD research farm

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‘Safeguarding the Future of Farming’ is the theme of an upcoming farm safety conference being hosted by FBD Insurance and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

The agriculture sector, which represents 5-6 per cent of the Irish workforce, often accounts for up to 50 per cent of work-related deaths, according to the HSA. In 2017, there were 47 workplace fatalities, including 24 farming-related deaths, with 14 fatalities in the age group of 65 or older. The conference aims to tackle the key causes of these accidents in a constructive way.

‘Safeguarding the Future of Farming’ takes place on Friday, April 20, at Lyons Research Farm, Co Kildare, which is the teaching and research facility operated by University College Dublin (UCD). The morning session comprises keynote speeches, presentations and a panel discussion followed by an afternoon session with four practical farm-safety demonstrations. These demonstrations will focus on topics including: machinery and the power take-off (PTO) shaft; working at heights; tractors and farm vehicles; and working with livestock.

These practical demonstrations, coordinated by Dr Aoife Osborne, FBD lecturer in farm health and safety at UCD, reflect the HSA’s findings on the main causes of farm deaths in Ireland from 2008-2017, during which time 210 people were killed.

In that 10-year period, tractors and other farm vehicles were responsible for 64 deaths; machinery caused the deaths of 42 people; livestock was responsible for 28 deaths; and 22 people died as a result of falls from heights.

‘Safeguarding the Future of Farming’ will be officially opened by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle, and will feature addresses by MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness; chairman of FBD Insurance, Liam Herlihy; senior inspector with the HSA, Pat Griffin; and will be moderated by RTÉ broadcaster and CountryWide presenter, Damien O’Reilly. The future of farm safety will also be represented by award-winning innovators: Alexander Brady and Jack Brady, from Colaiste Chraobh Abhann in Wicklow, winners of the ABP Farm Safety Award at the 2018 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition; and Jack Nagle, from Killorglin Community College in Kerry, winner of the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena People’s Choice Awards at the 2017 National Ploughing Championships. Speaking at the recent launch of 'Safeguarding the Future of Farming’, Liam Herlihy, chairman of FBD Insurance, said: “The number of accidents, injuries and fatalities happening on Irish farms every year cannot go on. FBD Insurance, through its Farm Protect programme, is working hard to reduce accidents on farms every day. We strongly encourage farmers to adopt best practice today and to set a good example for the next generation of Irish farmers. 

“Currently, there are more than 2.6 million drivers on Irish roads, and 158 people lost their lives in 2017. When you take into consideration that there are fewer than 140,000 active farmers in Ireland today and that we lost 47 people in farm-related accidents in 2017, it should be clear to us all that something must be done. FBD Insurance is delighted to support this conference and we hope that it will be an important moment for farm safety in the future.” Senior inspector with the HSA, Pat Griffin, said: “For me, the way to safeguard the future of farming is to make Irish farms the safest in Europe. We are already European leaders when it comes to producing quality food, now is the time for us to lead in relation to safety. There are some fantastic innovators partaking in the conference so the knowledge and ability is there, we must bring that willingness to farm safely to every farmyard in the country.”

Tags: Farm Safety