The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has postponed its planned farm inspection blitz due to the ongoing bad weather.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal this Friday, a spokesperson for the HSA confirmed that a focused inspection campaign on the safe use of farm machinery timed ahead of the busy harvesting season has been rescheduled due to the current poor weather conditions and the expected delay to the start of harvesting activity.

The spokesperson added that the HSA is an independent State regulator operating under the aegis of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

“The HSA is a regulatory body and its inspections across all sectors are considered essential and, as such, routine inspections across all industry sectors will continue as normal in the coming weeks.”

On Wednesday, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon launched a farm safety awareness campaign focusing on farm vehicles and machinery.

At that launch, HSA CEO Conor O’Brien said that HSA inspectors would be undertaking nationwide “farm inspection blitz over the coming weeks”.

Tone deaf

The move was met with anger from Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Francie Gorman, who demanded a halt to inspections and labelled the campaign as “tone deaf” in light of the current issues on farms.

“We need all planned inspections to be suspended in the context of the deplorable weather on farms. The pressure on farmers is unprecedented,” he said.

Department inspections

The move comes a day after the Department of Agriculture announced that it would be pausing all non-essential farm inspections until 22 April.

“I am extremely conscious of the pressure on farmers as a result of continuing and exceptional adverse weather conditions,” Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said.

“As an immediate step, I have asked my Department to pause farm inspections not specifically required to support payments until 22 April,” he said.