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MAY 2018
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
Farm Safety
MAY 2018
Farm Safety
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
Farming today is a vastly different machine to what it was
just some years ago. Farming is faster, farms are bigger,
machinery is heavier, herds are larger. Simultaneously,
farming maintains the top spot as the most dangerous
profession in the country with 210 people killed in the
sector between 2008-2017. It is with this in mind that up
to 100 farmers and key decision-makers in agriculture
attended a recent conference and practical safety
demonstration, hosted by FBD Insurance and the Health
and Safety Authority (HSA), at the Cliff at Lyons and the
UCD Lyons Research Farm
Glorified slavery
The event, opened by Minister of State for Food, Forestry
& Horticulture, Andrew Doyle, featured a lively panel
debate on pertinent farm safety issues. Panellist, Macra na
Feirme/FBD 2017 Young Farmer of the Year, PJ O'Keeffe,
spoke passionately and openly about the pressures that
Irish farmers are exposed to. Farmers today have set the
bar too high, he said.
"At the end of the day, something has to be doable before
to is possible. And, at the moment, in Irish agriculture,
we have set the bar too high. We want 80-90 per cent of
our cows calved in a six-week period, which is nothing but
glorified slavery."
Mr O'Keeffe hires four full-time people to work on his
farm, along with a number of part-timers, but there
is a dearth of farm labour in Ireland that needs to be
addressed, he said.
"I know that my farm is in trouble, sustainably. It is in
trouble from the point of view, that I need help from
Government regarding farm labour. Realistically, we do not
have enough people to work on Irish farms. We have Farm
Relief Services (FRS) but, generally, there are not enough
people. "We have tried on our farm to reduce the number
of hours in the working week. We have succeeded a lot but,
on average, I would say that I have worked 80-hour weeks
this spring. That is not OK. I don't want to be a role model
in farming, doing those kinds of hours."
Mr O'Keeffe called for a more heavy-handed approach
from the HSA when it comes to enforcing farm safety
measures. "We need the HSA to come down on us with
a firm hand because we [farmers] have had enough time
Jack Nagle, demonstrating his Tractor Safe Jack device to: chairman, FBD Insurance, Liam Herlihy;
Minister of State for Food, Forestry & Horticulture, Andrew Doyle; and MEP, Mairead McGuinness.
Making the `business'
of farming safer
Recognising farming for the `business' it actually is, and addressing
increased pressures and risks involved, will contribute greatly
to improving farmer welfare and reducing accident and fatality
numbers, writes
Bernie Commins
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