Tipperary farmers urged to put safety first as Farm Safety Week get underway

Tipperary Star reporter

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Tipperary farmers urged to put safety first as Farm Safety Week get underway

Imelda Walsh, chair, North Tipperary IFA

This week marks Farm Safety Week, and according to the IFA, the message they want to get out is always think safety first.

This year the approach is different and the campaign will celebrate when things go right, share good practice and demonstrate what good looks like in relation to working practices on the farm.

Each day of Farm Safety Week will cover a particular theme including machinery and transport, older farmers, children on farms, and livestock and sun protection.

The message for Farm Safety Week is: Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice.

The campaign seeks to continue to raise awareness of farming having one of the poorest safety records of any occupation in the UK and Ireland; highlight that the industry is aware of this and is working to address the issue; share good practice and demonstrate what good looks like; continue to support the physical and mental wellbeing of the industry by increasing understanding of how to support those dealing with mental health issues in the industry

Imelda Walsh, North Tipperary IFA chairperson said: “The message we want to get out there is simple - always think safety first. Arm yourself with the knowledge about the risks on the farm and how to avoid them and take the time to consider health and safety before doing a task. The evidence shows that if you do that, the chances of incurring an injury go way down.”

She said that IFA will be demonstrating that the simple step of managing risks could save your life or prevent a serious injury from taking place.

Tuesday's focus was on farm machinery and transport. Poorly used or faulty machinery is a major cause of death and injury on farms. Half of all fatal accidents on farms involve farm vehicles or machinery.

Farmers come into contact with a host of machinery daily - combines, choppers and hay balers which bring their own attendant dangers. Hands, hair and clothing can be caught by unguarded PTO shafts or other unguarded moving parts such as pulleys and belts. People can be injured by front-end loaders, falling from a moving tractor or being struck by its wheels.

Machinery accidents can be prevented by keeping the machine in good repair, fitting and ensuring all safety equipment (such as guards, safe access platforms and ROPS on tractors) are operating with the machine at all times and not taking risks when working with powerful machinery.

According to Caroline Farrell, IFA Farm Family Chairperson: "Everybody in farming knows somebody who has been injured or killed in an accident. This Farm Safety Week we are calling on farmers not to rely on luck when working. Agricultural machinery is dangerous and can rip off a limb or kill in seconds.

"Always ensure equipment is switched off when making routine checks or maintenance and always take your time to think about what you are doing and what might go wrong as making a few simple checks could actually save a life – maybe your own."

Teagasc safety specialist Dr John McNamara drew attention to the fact that 50 per cent of farm deaths were related to farm vehicles and machinery.

“This is a huge safety risk factor in July and into the autumn period due to high vehicle and machinery movement with harvesting activities and the fact that children are on holidays," he said.

He appealed to farmers to drive slowly, particularly in farmyards.

"A vehicle travelling at fast walking speed (8kph) covers 2.2 meters per second putting any bystander at high fatality risk if struck," said Dr McNamara.

The Teagasc specialist noted that 15 per cent of farm vehicle and farm deaths in 2017 were due to ATVs. He said that having training to use an machine is crucial for safety, drivers need to be agile to shift their weight on slopes to stabilise the ATV and most importantly ATV speed needed to be contained.

Lightweight but safety certified helmets were now on the market and it was imperative that such a helmet is worn, he added.