In a study conducted by Teagasc, advisers said that farmers forget health and safety when pressure is on, senior health and safety specialist with Teagasc Dr John McNamara said when speaking on Teagasc's Signpost webinar.

The theme of Friday morning's webinar was implementing health and safety for sustainable farming in 2023.

According to Teagasc's national farm survey in 2022, 4,500 accidents occurred on farms in 2021 and 47% of these required a three-day stay - or more - in hospital.

Almost 20% of farmers involved in non-fatal accidents needed GP attention and 16% needed first aid.

Livestock accounted for 52% of accidents, trips and falls accounted for 32% and accidents involving tractors and machinery made up another 13%.


Sheep farms were where the largest number of accidents occurred with 37%, dairy farms accounted for 25% and cattle farms 14%.

Ill health is an accident in slow motion

Speaking briefly about farmer health and wellbeing, McNamara said that ill health is an accident in slow motion.

"Farmers are in poor health also. Work by Dr Breda Smyth, who is now the Chief Medical Officer for Ireland, saw that circulatory diseases were five times higher in farmers than for white collar workers, cancer was three times higher and injuries were seven times higher," McNamara said.

There are a huge number of farmers in Ireland at risk of injury.

"There are 300,000 people at risk, farmers are predominantly self-employed and they tend to take risks. There's a difference between being self-employed and working for a company where you're under someone else’s control," he said.


Teagasc has secured €5m from the EU for farm safety research, which will run for the next four years.

The SafeHabitus initiative is the largest farm safety programme ever funded by the EU and has kicked off this week.

The project aims to increase the farm safety awareness of policymakers, farm organisations and public health authorities.