The Irish Farmers Association is to appoint a farm safety executive to implement a pilot farmer-to-farmer peer learning initiative at branch level
This pilot scheme aims to advise farmers about potentialThis pilot scheme aims to advise farmers about potential risks and to educate them to become safety ambassadors within their own communities. The farmers who get involved in the initiative will 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, according to the IFA. During the recent Farm Safety Week, president of the Irish farmers Association (IFA), Joe Healy, announced that William Shortall has been appointed to the role of the farm safety executive, to lead farm safety promotion and the new peer-to-peer mentoring initiative.Mr Shortall has worked as a regional development officer with the IFA since 2007. He holds a Diploma inAgricultural Engineering and has recently completed a higher Diploma in Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work. He will formally take up the new role on September 1. Commenting on the initiative, Mr Healy said: “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 sixth annual Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland tookThe sixth annual Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland took place recently, and the message from this year’s campaign was: ‘Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice’. Rather than focusing on agriculture’s poor safety record the SafetyWeek, instead, focused on the positives of safe farming, sharing good practice and demonstrating what ‘good’looks like. Sadly, over the course of the week, there were three fatalities on Irish farms. A woman in her 50s was killed while tending to her cattle in Co. Galway; a man in his 90s died in Kerry following an accident involving a tractor and machinery; and a man in his 50s was killed while tending to livestock in Co. Offaly.
KT farm walk
At a recent Knowledge Transfer (KT) event, hosted by Teagasc and Bord Bia on the farm of Fergal Fergal Doyle, Tubberavine, Lahardane, Co. Mayo, farm safety was one of the first items discussed, specifically the Farm Safety Risk Assessment, which is a legal requirement. John Gumley, Bord Bia, Quality Assurance auditor, explained that an essential element of their farm audit is the Farm Safety Risk Assessment, which must be filled in by all farmers, he stressed. “Ask someone to help you fill it in, but to get the most out of the process a farmer needs to be involved. Nobody knows the farm like the farmer, you know how the machinery is working and you know how you go about your job daily.” The breakdown of Irish farm deaths is an eye-opener, he said, and he highlighted risks posed by slurry and the PTO shaft, but warned farmers to be aware of all the dangers on farms. “Farm safety isn’t just about preventing deaths, it’s also about preventing serious, life-changing injuries,” he said.
‘I meant to hide it’
John told attendees of a recent visit to a farm where he noted a non-compliance issue. The farmer in question replied: “I meant to hide that before you got here.” John explained that the auditor is not there to catch farmers out, that the assessments are for the benefit of farmers, their families and their farms. He reminded farmers to ensure all the correct safety measures are used when handling substances, such as masks or goggles. It was also recommended that farmers keep a first aid kit on site. “Some farmers might not think they need it but having a kit on hand can make a world of difference.” Farmers were also advised to have a plan in place for farmers were also advised to have a plan in place for emergencies, including fire or flood. Again, John shared a story of an incident where a light bulb in a calf shed burst and started a fire. The farmer saw the fire on a video monitor and managed to quell it quickly. But this was just one example of how easily things can go wrong, he said. Jacinta O’Neill, Teagasc, talked farmers through tractor safety, focusing on the risk of crushing and knowing where the blind spot is.
Jacinta reiterated the importance of the Farm Safety RiskJacinta reiterated the importance of the Farm Safety RiskAssessment, reminding farmers that it is a legal document.“There is no point having it in a drawer and never looking at it. You should sit down, maybe with your partner, and think about how you go about your day, ask yourself what the risks are and ask yourself if you are preventing hazards. There are nine points in the assessment, go through them and see if they apply to your farm.”