There has been a steady rise in the number of non-fatal accidents involving livestock over the last 20 years, according to figures from the annual Teagasc National Farm Survey.
In 1996, livestock were involved in 23% of all non-fatal accidents.
The latest figures show livestock now accounts for 43% of all such accidents.
Rise in accidents
Minister of State for Trade, Business and Employment Pat Breen said the rise in accidents relating to livestock was largely in line with expansion in the agriculture sector and the significant increases in dairy and beef numbers.
Responding to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy, the minister said work was continuing with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to encourage safe livestock management.
Figures would indicate there is widespread under-reporting of non-fatal accidents involving livestock.
On average, 100 non-fatal accidents in the agriculture sector are reported to the HSA annually.
In comparison, figures from the annual farm survey indicate there are between 2,500 and 3,000 serious non-fatal accidents on farms each year.
Minister Breen said the sector was predominantly made up of self-employed and sole traders, who “unfortunately do not always report their accidents or injuries to the HSA”.
It is a requirement for all workplaces, regardless of size, enterprise or sector, to report accidents which result in an absence and the prevention of an employee from performing their normal work for more than three consecutive days.
When it comes to fatal accidents, livestock account for 16% of all deaths in the agriculture sector.
In 2018, five people were killed following incidents with livestock.
Cows and heifers are by far the most dangerous category of livestock.
They were involved in over half of fatal accidents, which mainly occurred during the calving period.
Bulls represent 15% of livestock deaths, while horses account for a further 10%.
Previous HSA inspection campaigns indicate that livestock handling facilities are generally good, with the risks of injury arising when handling facilities are either not used or not used properly.
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