Farming is without doubt the most dangerous industry to be involved in. Last year, nine deaths were recorded in relation to an agricultural workplace accident, accounting for almost 24% of the total 38 workplace deaths. This is despite the fact that agriculture only accounts for roughly 7% of the workforce. Farm deaths by livestock account for 26% of fatalities. We all know the risks associated with working with livestock. In this focus, we look at personal safety as much as we look at the handling facilities themselves.

On pages 40-41, we take a look at how to plan and design a cattle handling facility to allow for the safe and efficient handing of cattle. Thankfully, handling facilities have greatly improved on farms in the past few years. Rusted crushes have been ripped out and replaced with a high-quality unit supplied by an Irish manufacturer, of which we are lucky to have several in this country. With farmers completing many tasks by themselves, having safe and efficient handling facilities is a necessity rather than a luxury. We also need to consider our vets too. It is unfair to ask them to use substandard facilities to treat an animal that they are not familiar with and vice versa. With our current vet shortage, the last thing we need is for vets to get injured on the job or be turned off from large animal veterinary. On page 42, we look at sheep dipping facilities, with sheep dipping having a second coming in the past number of years. Some good contractors exist with mobile units, but a dipping tub in a handling unit won’t significantly dent the Single Farm Payment when the working life of the tub is taken in to account. Decreasing the manual work associated with handling sheep by installing forcing pens and races will reduce the workload, as well as wear and tear on the farmer’s body. Caution around handling chemicals also needs to be at the front of farmers’ minds when designing a dipping tub. Avoid splashing from sheep entering tubs and stay clear of sheep post-dipping to prevent chemicals coming in contact with the skin.