The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) launched a two-week farm inspection campaign on Monday, which will focus on working at height in agricultural settings.
The campaign will target both small and large farms nationwide.
The inspections come as 22 of the 191 farm fatalities recorded over the past 10 years resulted from incidents involving working at a height, including two fatalities so far this year.
HSA inspectors will be reminding farmers of the risks involved in any work at height and advising the use of appropriate machinery over these inspections.
“A fall from a height can lead to a very serious life-changing injury or even death. Taking shortcuts or carrying out work without due regard to the risks involved is not an option for any person working at height on a farm,” said the HSA’s senior inspector for agriculture Pat Griffin.
“Unfortunately, there have been 22 fatalities in the last 10 years relating to working at height on farms. These can all be prevented by planning the work and taking the right precautions.”
Falls from ladders, unprotected roof edges and falls through fragile roof materials are among the main risks identified by the authority for those working at heights on-farm.
“Storms and changes in weather means there can be more hazardous conditions for carrying out work at height, particularly when carrying out repairs on farm buildings,” Griffin continued.
“We advise farmers to plan ahead and make sure that work at height is only carried out using the proper equipment and with protective measures in place.
“This can be done by carrying out the risk assessment in our information sheet to identify all of the hazards, especially when working to repair fragile roofs. Falls from heights are preventable, so don’t take the risk.”
Risk factors which must be assessed before work commences on farm roofs may include whether there have been any previous repairs which could have weakened the roof, the possibility of roof sheeting deteriorating with age and roof lights which may have become brittle and are difficult to see when covered with paint or moss.
The HSA also advised that farmers should consider employing a competent contractor with the right equipment to carry out work at a height safely.
Farmers and duty holders carrying out maintenance on a shed or other farm structure should note that maintenance is considered construction work under which falls extensive legal requirements on health and safety.