Over the coming months farmers will be working hard during the busiest time of the farming year. January is a time for making New Year’s resolutions and Minister Simon Coveney TD encourages farmers to make safe farming a priority in 2012.
At this time of year there is a need to be particularly mindful of safety around livestock. Animals are still indoors and so there is more contact at this time of year between animals and people. The Minister reminds farmers, “to be extra careful when feeding animals alone and when separating sick animals from the herd indoors. It is advisable to always have an escape route when handling animals. Cows will begin calving soon and it is important to be prepared for any eventuality as calving cows can turn on even the most experienced farmer in an effort to protect their young”.
Twenty four people lost their lives on farms during the 2000 to 2009 period because of livestock related incidents, accounting for 15 per cent of all farm deaths during that time. During the same period, eighty people died as a result of accidents with tractors or other farm machinery, accounting for almost half (49%) of all farm fatalities in the recent decade (Source: HSA).
As the slurry spreading season gets underway it is extremely important to be aware of machinery safety. Farmers should ensure that all machinery is in good working order and that all PTO shafts are properly covered to prevent entanglement which can lead to serious injury or death. When agitating slurry farmers must keep all manholes properly covered to prevent accidental drowning and keep all sheds well ventilated to prevent the build-up of hydrogen sulphide gas which can overcome a person within minutes.
The Minister called on farmers to “ensure that elderly or retired farmers as well as farm children are kept out of the farmyard during this time as there is a lot going on and it’s difficult for farmers to pay attention to the work at hand as well as the supervision of family members or visitors”.
Minister Coveney also called on tillage farmers to be mindful of all aspects of machinery safety as they prepare for spring sowing. He says, “farmers should ensure that power is turned off before attending to machinery problems”.
Farming is the most dangerous occupation in Ireland having had 22 farm deaths in each of the past two years. There were a further 5 fishing related deaths in 2011 and 4 fishing related deaths in 2010. These fatality figures are alarmingly high and account for more than half of all deaths in the workplace in Ireland.
Farmers are reminded that they should abide by the Farm Safety Code of Practice and review their Farm Risk Assessment. Minister Coveney appeals to farmers to “slow down and take the time to check on your own farm safety as you go about your farming business in 2012. We all need to work together to improve our safety culture and to improve our record on farm safety”.