Farm Safety Week 2018, organised by the IFA, aimed at reducing farm accidents nationwide, is taking a slightly different approach this year.
Rather than focusing on agriculture’s poor safety record and stories of things going wrong, the campaign will highlight stories of when things go right, sharing good practices and demonstrating what "good safety" looks like.
Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice
Farming continues to have one of the poorest safety records of any sector in Ireland. Last year 24 people lost their lives in farm accidents and 11 people have lost their lives so far in 2018.
Farm Safety Week is supported by a number of agencies, including the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and members of the Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee.
Commenting on the initiative, IFA president Joe Healy said that these “statistics are stark, but statistics don’t tell the whole story – they don’t tell you about the devastating impact a farm fatality has on families and communities; they don’t tell you the impact a farm accident can have on the rest of your life, on your ability to run the farm”.
New IFA farm safety initiative and health and safety appointment
This year the IFA is appointing a farm health and safety executive to implement a pilot farmer-to-farmer peer learning initiative at branch level, to advise farmers about potential risks and educate them to become safety ambassadors within their communities.
The farmers who get involved in the initiative will help to mentor each other by, for example, walking each other’s farms to identify potential risks and visualise how safety works in a real life situation.
This kind of informal learning has been shown to be effective, because the people involved have the potential to adapt the programme to meet their needs and develop their own approaches to improving safety on the farm, according to the association’s president.
Farmers must take responsibility to prioritise safety, especially when working with tractors and machinery, which are the biggest cause of fatal accidents
Under new management
William Shortall has been appointed as IFA health and safety executive to lead farm safety promotion and the new peer-to-peer mentoring initiative.
Shorthall has worked as a regional development officer with the IFA since 2007. He holds a diploma in agricultural engineering and has recently completed a higher diploma in safety, health and welfare at work. He will formally take up the new role on 1 September.
Sharon McGuinness, chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority, believes that “farming is still the most dangerous sector in which to work, although awareness of the issues is high”.
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has commented that "there are a lot of risks in farming, but farming doesn’t have to be a dangerous occupation if you are aware of the risks. We have definitely seen an increased awareness of farm safety, thanks to initiatives like Farm Safety Week”.
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