It’s Time To Take Safety Seriously – Farm Safety Week 2020

Monday, 20 July 2020

Today (Monday, 20 July 2020) is the start of Farm Safety Week 2020. This annual campaign, now in its eight year, aims to raise farm safety awareness and to bring about a change in culture that makes unsafe practices socially unacceptable. The message for this year’s campaign is: It’s time to take safety seriously.

Coinciding with Farm Safety Week this year, a research paper entitled Trauma on Farms in the Republic of Ireland has been published. This paper is a study of data collected between 2014-16 as part of the Major Trauma Audit at the National Office of Clinical Audit.

Some of the key findings from this study include:

  • In the years 2014 through 2016, there were 430 major trauma incidents on farms
  • The median age of patients was 54.5 years; the patients ranged in age from less than one year old to 93 years of age.
  • Falls of less than two metres (low falls) caused a quarter of major trauma in those under 65 years of age, and low falls make up almost one-third of patients over 65 years old.
  • 33% of paediatric patients presented as a result of a “blow”, 26% due to a vehicle incident and 19% as a result of a fall less than two metres.
  • Peaks of attendances occurred at busy times of the year for farmers, in March and July.
  • Most patients arrived on a Monday (16.3%).
  • Farm trauma patients were more likely to arrive by helicopter (6%) than other MTA patients
  • Current data indicate that dairy farming is the most dangerous type of farming in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Agriculture workers suffer more than twice as many non-fatal workplace injuries as workers in other sectors.

Martin Heydon, the newly-appointed Minister of State with responsibility for farm safety, the first ever Minister of State to be assigned specific responsibility for farm safety, has said it needs to become “socially unacceptable” for farmers to be “doing something that is unsafe”.

Speaking at the beginning of Farm Safety Week, Minister Heydon said that attitudes must change if lives are to be saved. His appointment to Minister of State comes as a record number of people have been killed on farms so far this year with 14 fatalities at 20 July 2020, three of who were children.

Reacting to the figures, IFA President Tim Cullinan said: “Understanding the risks on and around a farm operation makes it easier to avoid dangers, and makes accidents less likely. However, all too often, farmers do not recognise the risks on their farms, which makes it difficult to manage the problem. Farmers have to be more careful, take their time and think about what could go wrong before they undertake any job.”

The Irish Farmers Association, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Health and Safety Authority, NISO and a range of other organisations and agencies are promoting farm safety all this week.

Sources: 
https://www.ifa.ie/farm-safety-week-2020-starts-today/
https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2020/0720/1154286-farm-safety/