Minister of State for Farm Safety Martin Heydon has asked farmers to keep safety at the forefront of their minds when working on farms over the Christmas and New Year period.

Minister Heydon said that with more family members around over Christmas, farmers must remember that the most vulnerable people on any farm are children and those over the age of 65.

He said a farm is a wonderful place to spend the holidays, but that farmers must be conscious that they are still working environments.

Planning for 2022

“To date there have been nine fatal accidents on farms in 2021. While this is an improvement on recent years, it is still nine farms that have suffered an irreversible loss," Minster Heydon said:

“We cannot get complacent; we need to see a sustained improvement in the years ahead.”

The minister said now is the time for all farmers to reflect on 2021 and plan ahead for 2022.

“It is only through a cultural change on farms to one that focuses on safe behaviours and practices that the rate of serious and fatal incidents can be reduced further.”

The Fine Gael minister urged all farmers to take time over the Christmas period to review the safety of their farms.

He said farmers should consider updating their Farm Risk Assessment, which helps to identify and address risks.

Calving season

He also flagged that the calving season is also just around the corner on many farms and that some of the first newborns will arrive in the coming days.

“Cows, and in particular heifers, can be unpredictable during or after calving, and may become aggressive. They are involved in more fatal incidents than bulls.

“Now is the time to plan for a safe calving season. Start by asking yourself, are my facilities in good condition, do they allow me to always keep a barrier between myself and the cow when I am handling the calf.

“If changes are required to the facilities or systems, now is the time to do it.”

Heydon said that he wants 2022 to be the year when farmers stop and think every morning about what they are going to do for the day and how they will do it safely before they go out on the farm.

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