Teagasc and HSA join forces to tackle farm safety
Agriculture accounts for up to half of all work-related deaths, even though it is only 6% of the national workforce.

Teagasc and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) renewed a joint initiative agreement on Friday to promote farmer safety and health for the next three years.

It comes in the face of growing safety challenges on farms, as they expand and the farming population continues to age.

Agriculture accounts for less than 6% of the Irish workforce, but often accounts for up to 50% of work-related deaths.

Last year 24 farmers died in work-related accidents, with 14 of them aged 65 or older.

This week, doctors at Cork University Hospital expressed concern about the level of farm injuries it dealt with.

Under the new Teagasc/HSA agreement:

  • Research into farm accidents in the Teagasc National Farmer Survey will be finalised.
  • A jointly funded study on the usefulness of discussion groups in promoting farm safety is also underway.
  • Teagasc and agricultural consultants will train farmers on the revised Farm Safety Code of Practice. Completion of the training is also a requirement for farmers to secure TAMS II funding from the Department of Agriculture.
  • Teagasc will host safety and health exhibits at major events in 2018, including the National Beef Open Day at Teagasc Grange on 26 June.
  • A European COST Action (Co-operation in Science & Technology) meeting in March will see Teagasc, the HAS and other organisations share ideas on improving farm safety throughout Europe.
  • In April, the World Congress on Occupational Health and Safety will include presentations on Teagasc, HSA and UCD research on farm safety and health.
  • Real actions

    Martin O’Halloran, HSA chief executive, said that while the approach to farm safety and health is generally well understood by farmers and the broader farming community, “this awareness must now be matched by real actions on the ground”.

    He warned: “Farmers face a wide variety of hazards and risks on a daily basis and must proactively manage them to ensure a safe and healthy working life.”

    Farmer workloads

    Teagasc director Professor Gerry Boyle said Teagasc will be emphasising the need for improvements in work organisation to cut farmer workloads in its advisory programmes in 2018.

    “Working long hours and hurrying have been shown to be major contributory factors in farm accidents,” said Boyle.

    “This may also be a contributory factor to the rise in accidents among older farmers in recent years.”

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    This week in photos: New Ross and Newport Marts
    Our top farming photos from the last week include harvesting and hay-making.

    Front page photo: Bales in Co Kildare

    Hundreds of bales on the Kelly family farm in Athy, Co Kildare. Conor Kelly has been tasked with moving these bales. The family also grows gluten-free oats, rapeseed and wheat. \ Claire-Jeanne Nash

    Haymaking in Co Cavan

    Charlie Reburn and Peter McGorry in Corraneary, Co Cavan, raking and baling hay for JMC agri contractors. \ Philip Doyle

    My Farming Week in Co Kilkenny

    Brothers Tom and Jim Murphy in Fiddown, Inistioge, Co Kilkenny. The brothers are currently switching the farm from beef to dairy and hope to begin milking in 2019.

    Winter barley harvesting in Co Kildare

    Park Avenue Farm in Boley, Co Kildare, is a family run farm and grain stores. The Kellys run a tillage, sheep and beef enterprise. Michael and his three brothers, Jerry, John and Jimmy, work together on the farm. Michael’s son and daughter, David and Clodagh, are currently studying ag Science in UCD. \ Philip Doyle

    Grubbing beet in Co Wexford

    Ciaran Lancaster grubbing beet in Ballybeg, Fernes, Co Wexford. He is contracting for tillage and beef farmer Pat Rourke. Ciaran explains that beet holds up well in drought, needing little water. \ Philip Doyle

    Harvesting in Co Carlow

    Joe Walsh harvesting winter barley in Ballybar, Co Carlow. He is harvesting a Bazooka six-row highbred with a moisture content of 15.5%, which was sown in the last week of October 2017. \ Philip Doyle

    Newport Mart

    Liam Philips from Killoscully, Jimmy Kennedy from Silvermines and Francis Ryan from Birdhill, at the sheep sale in Newport Mart, Co Tipperary. \ Mike Hoare

    PJ Fogarty, Ruth Minihan and Baden Powell, all form Newport, and Liam Shanahan form Broadford, Co Clare, at Newport Mart. \ Mike Hoare

    John and Dolores deCourcy from Limerick at Newport Mart. \ Mike Hoare

    Liam Shanahan from Kilbane, Co Clare with Jack and Mary Berkery from Rearcross at Newport Mart. \ Mike Hoare

    New Ross Mart

    Cattle in the ring at Monday's sale in New Ross mart. \ Mary Browne

    Kevin Barry, Ann Furlong and Michael Cody at New Ross mart. \ Mary Browne

    Anthony Ryan and Richard Kirwan from Ramsgrange, Co Wexford at New Ross mart. \ Mary Browne

    Eyes on the ring at the weekly sale at New Ross mart. \ Mary Browne

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    This week in photos: Loughrea Mart and winter barley harvesting

    Around the country in pictures

    This week in photos: BEEF 2018 and wholecrop harvest

    Tests for residues and illegal medicines shows 99.7% compliance
    The Department of Agriculture released the results of testing carried out under the National Residue Control Plan (NRCP) in 2017 on Sunday.

    The overall rate of compliance with the NRCP stands at 99.7%. The NRCP covers testing for banned substances, approved veterinary medicines, pesticides and environmental contaminants.

    18,513 samples were tested in 2017, taken across all 8 food producing species (bovine, ovine, porcine, equine, poultry, farmed game, wild game and aquaculture) as well as milk, eggs and honey. Most samples are taken in accordance with criteria designed to target animals or products that are more likely to contain illegal residues.


    The Department said that this high level of compliance has been consistent going back to 2013.

    Just 51 samples were non-compliant and of these the majority related to residues of authorised medicines. Risk evaluations by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland were carried out in response to each result and it was found that there was no unacceptable food safety risk to consumers. In these circumstances, none required a recall of products from the market. In all cases where positive results were found, a follow up investigation takes place at the farm of origin. Results from the extensive testing under the NRCP in 2017 indicated the absence of illegal administration of banned growth promoting hormones and other banned substances to food-producing animals in Ireland.

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