Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
January 10, 2011

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Irish agriculture sector sees dramatic rise in deaths

The number of work-related deaths on farms in Ireland more than doubled in a year, according to shocking new statistics from the country’s Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

In 2010, a total of 25 people lost their lives on farms, compared with 11 in 2009. Overall, farms deaths accounted for 53 per cent of the total 47 deaths recorded in Irish workplaces last year (up from 43 in 2009).  The figures prompted IOSH to call for an “attitude of urgency” towards improving the protection of farm workers.

The increase is particularly disappointing in light of the efforts of various stakeholders to tackle the high accident rate in the agriculture sector. Initiatives have included the establishment of the FarmSafely website by the HSA, which features an online risk assessment, health and safety exhibits at national farming events, and the inclusion of a health and safety training module in agriculture courses in the higher-education sector.

HSA chief executive, Martin O’Halloran, said even more needs to be done this year if the situation is to change. He elaborated: “In 2010, we carried out 1700 farm inspections; during 2011, we intend to carry out a minimum of 3000.” The Authority has already established a dedicated Agriculture Inspectorate, which will also manage a range of awareness campaigns, continue the work of the Farm Safety Partnership, and work closely with farmers’ representative groups.

Said O’Halloran: “We have seen in other sectors, such as construction, that where everyone ‘buys in’ to workplace safety there is a corresponding decrease in accidents. Farming is a difficult and challenging occupation; many involved are self-employed and the pressure that farmers are under can be intense at times.

“However, the fact is that the types of farm accidents that are causing deaths and serious accidents, such as those involving machinery and livestock, can be prevented.”

Following the publication of the figures, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) announced it would be launching a major nationwide campaign later this month, which would be promoted to its 87,000 members. Said the chair of the IFA’s Farm Family Committee, Margaret Healy: “The use of awareness and promotion to keep safety to the forefront in the minds of all farm families, rather than inspection and enforcement, would be a far more effective method to improve and bring about a real change in culture.”

The Ireland branch of IOSH will launch a new Rural Industries Section this year, under the banner of which a range of events, seminars and meetings will be organised to better equip employers and health and safety professionals to make workplaces healthier and safer.

Branch chair Declan Gibney commented: “The new Rural Industries Section will provide a hub for professionals working across the farming, forestry and fishing industries to share ideas and best practice, to help find real solutions to how we can start to turn the tide. We hope it will make a different to workers on the front line.”

He added that the Irish government must protect the HSA’s budget as it “will not be able to safeguard workers’ lives without adequate funding”.

Related Topics

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments