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When it comes to the safety of others on your
farm, you have a legal requirement to ensure that all
personnel are not entering at their own risk, writes
Bernie Commins
Every year in Ireland, farming-related accidents and injuries
breach the 2,000 mark it is widely believed that this is
a grossly underestimated figure with farming-related
fatalities positioning it number-one on the most-dangerous
profession list.
Tractors, machinery and livestock are the biggest threats
to farmers, which is unfortunate considering the nature of
farming you can't really have one without the others.
As we put 2017 to bed, we start the new year re-energised,
anticipating productive and profitable months ahead. While
the farmer's list of things to do is long, farm safety yours
and that of those working on your farm must be top of the
pile. Recently, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine,
Michael Creed, was reported as saying that his Department
hadn't ruled out imposing penalties on farmers for health
and safety breaches but added: "It really is a sad state of
affairs if we have to encourage people to save their own
Legal requirement
Did you know that you have a legal requirement, as an
employer, to ensure your farm, as a place of work, is safe?
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act says so!
According to Teagasc, a safety statement or risk assessment
document (RAD) identifies the key dangers that may cause
death or serious injury. An RAD is the minimum legal
requirement on all farms and it aims to:
Provide a safe place of work;
Use safe systems of work; and
Provide all machinery with guards, protective equipment,
information, training and supervision necessary to protect
those at risk.
This document should be reviewed at least annually or
when there are changes in the business;
If a dangerous situation arises, work should stop
immediately until the hazard or danger is controlled; and
All who work on the farm should be advised of the
A full safety statement is only required when farmers have
more than three employees (including farmer, regular
workers and family members who are regular workers).
Approximately 5 per cent of farms in Ireland have more
than three workers, it is believed.
Code of Practice
In mid-2017, the HSA published a revised farming code
of practice called Code of Practice for Preventing Injury
and Occupational Ill-Health in Agriculture. Developed with
assistance from Teagasc and the Farm Safety Partnership,
this new Code includes information on technical progress
in the sector, changes in farming practice, equipment and
accident trends since 2006.
While it was implemented in July 2017, the previous Code
will be phased out over 18 months. The new Code (which
has a green cover) comprises the RAD, available from the
HSA, Teagasc and consultants, and the guidance document,
which is available on the HSA and Teagasc websites. Farmers
will have to sign up to this new Code by December 2018. Put
that in the diary!
An up-to-date risk assessment document is a legal
requirement and can be inspected by a HSA inspector.
It is also a requirement for participation in Bord Bia
Quality Assurance Schemes.
Action plan
We are entering the third and final year of the Farm Safety
Action Plan 2016-2018. January is a timely month to remind
ourselves of the aims of this plan and, more importantly, to
strive to achieve them this year:
1. To achieve cultural behavioural change in health and
safety of persons working in the agricultural sector
through research, education and training;
2. To develop programmes that will foster innovative
approaches and deliver engineering solutions to reduce
the risks to persons working in agriculture;
3. To reduce the level of death and injury arising from
tractor and machinery use;
4. To establish initiatives to reduce the level of death and
injuries arising from working with livestock;
5. To ensure high standards of health and safety are adopted
in forestry and timber work on farms; and
6. To implement programmes for the protection of health
and wellbeing of persons, including vulnerable groups,
working in agriculture.
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