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Safety Focus
Safety Focus
the other end of the machinery spectrum, quadbikes
have given rise to increased injuries and deaths on farms.
Speed can be an issue along with the fact that many,
if not most, operators do not wear helmets. There are
additional safety measures which should be introduced.
Certified roll-bars are now available which can be
attached to quads. While roll bars will not prevent bikes
from overturning, they can and do help prevent crushing
injuries in the event that a quad does turn over."
Raising risk awareness
Ciaran points out that FBD is extremely active in raising
awareness around farm safety and highlighting the
areas and particularly the circumstances which need
most attention: "To date we have produced ninety-five
thousand safety signs for use on farms. We are regularly
involved in safety campaigns and, in conjunction with
HSA, ICOS, ALM and Embrace we are into the third year
of a campaign run in the livestock marts. That campaign
includes remembering those who did not survive farm
accidents. It has highlighted farm safety issues to over
ten thousand farmers annually, including, crucially, the
older demographic which is at the greatest risk and can
be illustrated by the accident statistics. Access to the
marts allows us to advise on the need to have adequate
and safe livestock handling facilities. Sixteen percent
of farm fatalities occur around livestock. One notable
critical timeline is around a calving cow. Good handling
facilities and calving gates can considerably reduce the
risk of injury or worse.
Reduced margins and labour shortage
"Farming is not an occupation for the faint hearted. Due
to labour shortages and financial pressures, farmers
are often working longer hours while undertaking tasks
which require two or more people to complete the task
safely. A sustained period of low margins in some farm
sectors has directly impacted on farmers' ability to invest
in safe farm facilities."
Be adequately insured
On the other side of the equation, Ciaran emphasises
the need for farmers to have adequate insurance in
place, in the event that an accident does happen:
"That can be broken into di erent segments including
Personal Accident, Employers Liability which includes
family members and Public Liability cover. As good
practice farmers should identify potential hazards,
associated risks and implement appropriate safety
controls. Farmers need to develop a mind-set to ensure
all farm equipment is maintained in good working
order and all necessary machine guarding is kept in
place. Livestock handling facilities should be inspected,
preferably with the objective eye of an outsider. It's
not all about physical structures on the farm. Slurry
handling can be extremely dangerous if a farmer is not
fully aware of the potential risks involved. The basic rules
around slurry handling include working on a windy day,
not entering the building until at least thirty minutes
after agitating and ensuring that barriers are in place to
prevent anyone falling into tanks."
Working at heights can and does lead to life-changing
accidents if proper precautions are not adopted. That's
the blunt message from the FBD Risk Manager: "Whether
it's building work or maintenance that's involved, the
farmer needs to be safety conscious. Where necessary
get competent operators to carry out the work. There is
good advice in the `Build in Safety' booklet produced by
FBD, Teagasc and the HSA around working at heights.
Farmers need to be aware that most farm insurance
policies DO NOT cover construction work but it is
included in FBD's Farm Multi-peril policy where there are
employers liability and public liability insurance in place.
Ciaran advises farmers to check on their insurance cover
before any work begins. Falling o or falling through
roofs has had devastating consequences for too many
people. In general, when it comes to farm safety, we
need to have a complete behaviour and culture change.
Often farmers take risks when they are in a hurry, under
stress or where there is a financial cost. It is never
acceptable to work in poor conditions or have poor
work practices. We are taking about life and death.
The message must be `STOP, THINK and PLAN before
beginning a job.'. The personal and economic losses are
just too great to take chances."