"People that don’t want to spend anything on farm safety really need to know how much it costs to go to hospital for a night, or sadly as too many people understand, how much it costs for a funeral." These were the words of Patrick Griffin, HSA senior inspector, who was speaking at the farm safety event held jointly with Teagasc at Clonakilty Agricultural College on Friday. "Think about those costs and then think about your safety when you are working. We have to make sure we spend that bit of money to keep ourselves safe because the alternative isn’t great,” he added.

Reducing fatalities in agriculture remains one of the biggest challenges faced by the HSA in a year which has seen 22 deaths to date in the sector.

Many of the questions from farmers regarded the inability to invest in extra safety measures due to lack of profitability on farm. Pat acknowledged the issue but after seeing first-hand the aftermath of accidents he was in a mood for straight talking.

If they can’t farm safely I think they need to think about whether they can stay in that farming business or not

“If they can’t farm safely I think they need to think about whether they can stay in that farming business or not," he said. "That said, there are a lot of things you can do on a farm that don't cost you money but they will protect you or make your farm a safer place. It won’t cost you more money to minimise the amount of reversing you do in your yard.”

Listen to Patrick Griffin and Garda traffc corps officer Brendan Condon in our podcast below:

Teagasc health and safety officer John McNamara said farmer management of health and safety issues is the essential component of preventing farm accidents. According to him, short-term changes in behaviour are needed to secure safety. In the long term, farms need to be managed to minimise risk. He reminded farmers that under the TAMS II scheme considerable grant aid is available to implement health and safety improvement measures on farms.

"Winter ready"

The event focused on planning to be "winter ready" for adverse weather events, including electrical safety, building maintenance and use of chainsaws on farms.

One of the best-received stops of the day was a demonstration by An Garda Síochána on trailer licences and towing capacity. Garda Brendan Condon of the traffic corps advised those present to look out for a high towing capacity when purchasing vehicles for towing trailers. He said: “We’re two years on the road doing events like this and nine out of 10 people will do what you ask them to do, but the person I meet at an accident is the one that didn’t.”

A round bale on the back of your tractor could be obscuring the tractor lights

With evenings pulling in, Garda Condon recommended increasing the visibility on tractors. “If a car driver comes up behind you and you have a round bale on the back of your tractor it could be obscuring the tractor lights. You’re then left with what the car driver can see. If you have a beacon then they will know there is a slow-moving vehicle ahead and they have to be careful.”

If a beacon wasn’t an option, he offered an alternative option: “Put something reflective on the back of the cab, because you could have a lighting failure. Reflectors will still stay working no matter what.”

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