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Speaking at the conference in Ennis, Co Clare, which is organised by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and Teagasc, John McNamara of Teagasc said the pressure on full- and part-time farmers is growing and this is affecting human health.

This is too high. Families are grieving

He said working in a hurry is a major factor in farm accidents, particularly in spring when the workload increases dramatically.

“Farmers are under increased work pressure, as the dairy sector has expanded, while drystock farmers are availing of off-farm employment with the upturn in the economy,” McNamara said.

Most dangerous occupation

Farming continues to be the most dangerous occupation in the country. Farming has approximately 6% of the workforce but accounts for about 60% of the deaths. However, one trend is concerning farm safety officials.

Professor Jim Phelan, chair of the Farm Safety Partnership, said he in concerned by the rising number of older people dying on farms.

“There has been a shift in the last number of years towards fatalities among older people in agriculture and that is very concerning.

“I believe that the solution to reducing these deaths is a multi-agency or multi-stakeholder approach where we strongly target vulnerable groups, such as elderly farmers, with safety messages and supports. It will take significant investment in terms of time and money but we must address this issue with resources.”

Junior minister with responsibility for farm safety Pat Breen opened the conference and said a greater effort needs to be made to protect those on farms.

“Farming remains an important part of Irish life and a key part of our economy. Across the farming community, there have been 21 people killed due to work activity so far in 2017. This is too high. Families are grieving.

“We must make every effort to ensure that workplace deaths in the farming industry are reduced.”

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