Agri Aware SOWING the seeds of farm safety among children
Agri Aware has always played an important role in educating the general public on Irish agriculture and the importance of the agri-food industry as well as being a supporting shoulder to the agriculture industry, particularly the farmers on the ground, Michael says. But it doesn’t stop there: “There is as much an onus on Agri Aware to support and educate the farming community where possible and an important topic where the need for more awareness and education is needed is farm safety,” he explains.
“With any line of work, there are risks to one’s safety and Irish agriculture is no different. In 2022, it had the unwanted title of being the sector with the most deaths according to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). Sadly, this number was 13.
“And even though the dangers on farms are highlighted and more information is widely available on the risks associated with animals, machinery and infrastructure, people continue to get injured and, sadly, fatally injured,” Michael says.
The risk of injury on farms has grown significantly in the last 20 to 30 years with the advancements in machinery and infrastructure, and due to the size of farms. Handling facilities for cattle that once were suitable, for example, are now outdated on some farms, and aren’t fit for purpose, Michael says. But tackling the important safety aspect of farming at a young age is key to driving a change in culture on farms.
“As an educational body one of our remits is to promote greater awareness of farm safety through programmes we run in primary and secondary schools, and events that we attend, Michael says. “One long-standing Agri Aware educational resource that targets children at a young age is called Dig In. This is a free educational resource that provides information on farming, food and the countryside for primary school students from junior infants up to sixth class.”
This educational resource comprises modules that relate to different areas where risks are posed. These include general farm safety, animal safety, machinery safety, and electrical safety.
Michael adds: “The lessons within the modules not only contain information on farm safety but also feature activity sheets where students can put the theory they learn into practice by answering questions related to farm safety, and take those learnings home with them and put them into practice while out helping on the family farm.”
Plans for 2024
In 2024 and beyond, Agri Aware is looking to further build on its farm-safety remit and make more strides in this area, says Michael. He adds: “Particularly through our programmes where young people can be targeted and be educated from a young age about being safe on farms with the help of a new farm-safety initiative.
“Our presence at events, dealing with the topic of farm safety, will be further highlighted after a successful pilot at Flavours of Fingal, the popular Dublin family show, in 2023. There, the Agri Aware team gave talks on farm safety with the help of physical props to give a visual aid of the dangers posed to farmers, and how they can be reduced to prevent accidents from occurring.”
To view and access the Agri Aware Dig In modules and lessons, visit: agriaware.ie/programmes