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Safety Focus
about safety
Tom Murphy, Professional Agricultural Contractors of Ireland, talks passionately about the need for
vigilance when it comes to safety in agriculture
Health and safety relating to agricultural enterprises
is a wide ranging and interlinked science. It is about
physical and mental wellbeing as well as maintaining and
operating machinery and the manner in which the many
and varied tasks involved in farming are carried out. It's
about keeping workshops and yards, o ces and buildings
to specific standards and ensuring workers are trained
and competent and you and your family, your employees
and visitors remain safe. Thought must also be given to
the safety of the general public when travelling on roads,
whether country lanes, secondary or primary roads.
Throughout the life of a farmer or agricultural worker,
risks change and increase as we face challenges with
our business and family, health issues and the natural but
unstoppable e ects of aging. There is no escaping the
fact that farming is a risky business.
In the period 2009-2018 there were 207 deaths on Irish
farms. Thirty-eight per cent involved farmers over 65 and
10 per cent were children, together representing almost
50 per cent of all fatalities.
The introduction of the Code of Practice for the
Prevention of Accidents to Children and Young People in
Agriculture saw a sustained drop in the number of child
fatalities. We must not become complacent; it is worth
checking over the abovementioned Code of Practice
on the HSA website as a reminder of the dangers facing
children that could kill or maim them.
Older farmers
The number of farmers over the age of 65 being killed
and injured is concerning. Unlike other industries there is
no compulsory retirement age for farmers, with the vast
majority working on with little or no support or advice
beyond an age where they can safely carry out farming
tasks. Some might say the only way to address the
number of fatalities with senior farmers is to remove them
from the workplace, away from potential harm. This is
neither desirable nor feasible where a large percentage
of land is owned by older farmers. Senior farmers are so
much more than landowners; their years of experience
and love of the land is part of our cultural and social
history. They deserve to have their changing needs
addressed. By recognising risk factors in the context of
aging farmers, the HSA and stakeholders continue to
work together through the Farm Safety Partnership, to
identify e ective policies and programmes to reduce the
probability of accidents in this sector. That said, by taking
ownership of their own safety and accepting they are not
as young as they used to be, older farmers and indeed
contractors can adapt the way they approach their work
to help reduce the likelihood of accidents.
Driving under the influence
When on the road, farmers and agricultural contractors
are governed by the Road Tra c Act. The current RSA
focus is the implications of driving under the influence
of alcohol, recreational drugs, prescribed and over
the counter drugs. Since 13th April 2017, Gardaí have
the power to test drivers for the presence of cannabis,
cocaine, opiates (e.g. Morphine) and benzodiazepines
(e.g. Valium) at the roadside or in a Garda station. It is
against the law to drive under the influence of drugs
(including prescribed drugs) where your driving is
impaired to such an extent that you don't have proper
control of the vehicle. It is also against the law to drive
under the influence of certain drugs (regardless of driving
performance) above specified levels. There are currently
three drugs tested for cannabis, cocaine and heroin. If
you are found to have any of these drugs above the
specified limits, you can be prosecuted for drug driving
even if your driving is not impaired.
Tractor Vehicles, 6, 29%
Machinery, 9, 11%
Other, 1, 1%
Livestock, 19, 24%
Timber, 2, 3%
Falling object, 6, 8%
Falling from height, 6, 8%
Drown/gas, 4, 5%
Tractor vehicles, 28, 35%
Drown/Gas, 1, 5%
Electricity, 1, 5%
Falling object, 2, 9%
Machinery, 11, 52%
Total 21
Total 21
Fatalities Children 2009-2018
Fatalities Children 2009-2018