Take five for safety

April is Farm Safety Month and this week the Health and Safety Authority is urging farmers to take five minutes each morning to consider safety and then to plan for safety and keep themselves and their family safe on the farm. As of April 22nd, there were five fatalities on farms so far this year. Last year there were 11 work-related fatalities on farms. Most deaths on Irish farms are associated with the use of tractors and other machinery, with livestock and falls from height also leading to many deaths. Another stark fact is that over half the people killed on Irish farms over the last three years have been elderly and generally over 65 years of age. The Health and Safety Authority has committed to carrying out 1,350 inspections of farms in 2008, Inspectors from the Authority will be looking for a 20 percent increase in the level of adoption of the Farm Safety Code of Practice. The Authority expects to carry out over 300 farm inspections during April and will be focusing on preventing the common causes of death and injury. Manual handling is one of the biggest causes of injury in farming so the Authority will be concentrating on giving advice to farmers on how to minimise the risk of injury. Inspectors from the Authority are trained to give useful advice to farmers on how they can comply with the legislation and how they can make their workplaces safer for themselves, their employees and their families. Inspectors from the Authority have been visiting farms and have found some improvement in compliance with the Farm Safety Code of Practice. Pat Griffin, Senior Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, stated that ‘Compliance needs to reach much higher levels to make real changes on the ground.’ Griffin added, ‘Farmers should talk openly to Inspectors and make good use of the farm inspection.’ He encouraged the proper use of the Farm Safety Code of Practice and training available from local Teagasc offices, ‘Farmers should for the month of April give five minutes each morning to consider safety before starting work, plan for safety and keep themselves and their family safe on the farm.’