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May 11, 2012

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Northern Ireland partnership to address farm fatalities

Northern Ireland’s health and safety minister Arlene Foster and agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill have launched a Farm Safety Partnership to reduce the number of fatal work-related accidents among farmers.

The Partnership brings together the HSE for Northern Ireland (HSENI), the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

Launching the Partnership, Arlene Foster, said: “The Farm Safety Partnership is a positive and much needed step forward in the drive to stop farming fatalities. The partners have developed an action plan as a very practical approach to addressing problems in the agriculture sector. The plan has a number of specific targets for each of the partners, with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of sensible and practical health and safety among the farming community.”

As part of the Partnership’s action plan, the HSENI will be conducting health and safety awareness days for farmers, as well as providing health and safety demonstrations at major agricultural shows.

Farming ranks as one of the most hazardous work activities, with 12 people having died in farm-related incidents last year.

Barclay Bell, deputy president of the UFU, said: “Every fatality is a terrible tragedy for the family and community involved and, unfortunately, in recent years we have seen a rise in the number of such incidents. We want safety to be a priority on every farm in Northern Ireland so that the risk of serious accidents can be reduced. I would ask every farmer to give this issue some thought and take action if necessary to improve the safety on their farm.”

Michelle O’Neill added: “The farm is a complex workplace where the farmer is often working alone on difficult terrain with heavy machinery and with livestock that can, at times, be very unpredictable. Therefore, it is vital that the farmer and all of those working and living on the farm take every precaution every day of the week to ensure that they are safe.

“I have every confidence that the Partnership will help farmers recognise the need to correctly assess risk and, equally importantly, take action that will reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring on the farm and make farms a much safer place for farmers and their families.”

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