NOVEMBER 2018 Farm Safety Focus Farm accident numbers rising Farm accidents have risen by 13 per cent in the last five years and by 31 per cent in the last 10 years. This is the stark finding of a national survey of farm accidents conducted by the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS). The survey found that in the five-year period 2012-2017 that 11 per cent of farms had an accident and in total 2,814 accidents occurred. By farming system, the survey indicates that dairy farms had the highest accident rate of 18 per cent over the survey period compared to tillage (12 per cent) and sheep (11 per cent) farms with the cattle systems of rearing (9 per cent) and finishing (8 per cent) reporting lower accident levels. The survey indicates that 42 per cent of accidents involved livestock with farm vehicles or machinery involved in a further 25 per cent. Trips or falls resulted in 13 per cent of farm accidents followed by chainsaws (7 per cent) and farm buildings (6 per cent). The proportion of accidents involving farm vehicles or machinery has more than doubled from 2011 to 2017, while livestock related accidents increased by 26 per cent. The survey, however, indicates a marked decline in the proportion of accidents due to trips and falls. The survey showed that almost two-thirds of farm accidents occurred in the farmyard (64 per cent) and a further 15 per cent in farm buildings. Almost one-fifth of accidents (19 per cent) were in fields with only 2 per cent on farm roadways or lanes. In terms of work time loss due to a farm accident, almost one-third (30 per cent) of accidents resulted in a work absence of more than a month, with 21 per cent being more than two months. Thirteen per cent of accidents resulted in between 11 and 30 days work absence, 22 per cent endured a 4-10 day work absence, and 18 per cent of accidents resulted in a one to three day absence from work. Just 17 per cent of accidents resulted in no work time loss. Age profiling The Teagasc survey data indicates that younger farmers are more likely to have non-fatal accidents in contrast to fatal accidents. Thirteen percent of farmers in the 40-50 and 50-60 age brackets suffered a farm accident, followed by 12 per cent for farmers below 40 years of age. Nine per cent of farmers aged 60-70 and 7 per cent over 70 years of age suffered a farm accident over the timeframe of the survey. For every farmer killed or injured in an accident many family members are impacted. These include girlfriends, spouses, brothers, sisters, children, friends and neighbours. So many thousands indeed are impacted every year and it seems to be difficult to reduce the accident rate despite the best efforts of the health and safety personnel who have been working hard to increase awareness and improve the working environment. The reasons for this include bigger farms, more pressure at work, less family help available, bigger herds and higher horsepower (HP) machinery, all conspiring to increase the risks on farms. However the new TAMS grants have helped, with the installation of better drafting facilities, while new technology has reduced the labour and time required for cleaning yards, heat detection, feeding stock, milking and other labour intensive work. Family involvement in accidents The 2017 Teagasc NFS survey indicates that the vast majority of on-farm accidents (92 per cent) involved a family member, with 80 per cent occurring to the farmer. Twelve per cent involved a spouse or another family member. The remaining proportion of accidents involved workers (5 per cent) and others (3 per cent). Almost all farm accident victims (97 per cent) required medical treatment with 73 per cent attending hospital, a further 19 per cent attended a doctor and 4 per cent received first aid. Tragically 1 per cent of such accidents reported resulted in a fatality. 49