The Health and Safety Authority is beginning a two-week “intensive” farm safety inspection campaign today (Monday, January 24th, 2022).
It will focus on the safe management of livestock during calving season when the risk of injury to farmers increases “significantly”.
Over the last decade, 196 people have lost their lives in farming-related work activity in Ireland.
Of these fatalities, 38 involved livestock. In 2021 alone, working with cattle accounted for 3 fatalities.
Farm safety inspection campaign
Pat Griffin, senior inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, said:
“Although 2021 saw a significant decline in farm fatalities, there are still far too many deaths in the agriculture sector as well as a substantial number of very serious injuries.”
“Working with livestock is a key incident trigger, and farmers must make their physical safety an absolute priority. During this time of year, which includes the calving period, increased fatigue and stress levels are common.”
“However, early planning and preparation can make a significant difference in the safe management of livestock and help prevent injury or even death”.
Key questions the HSA listed to ask whilst working with livestock:
- Is there a plan in place to minimise the risk of attack?
- Can you establish an adequate physical barrier between the farmer and the freshly calved cow when tagging, treating and handling calves?
- Is there adequate lighting in the yard and farm buildings?
- Do you need help? Are the extra resources trained and experienced?
- Are facilities and procedures adequate for loading and unloading animals?
Pat Griffin added, “We know that, on dairy farms, in particular, farmers may be managing larger herds of livestock.”
Calving facilities and equipment
He said, therefore, there must be enough space and shelter for the number, size and class of cattle.
The HSA urges farmers to plan ahead and put safety measures in place during this calving season.
“Cows and, in particular, heifers, can be unpredictable before, during or after calving and may become aggressive,” he said.
The safety watchdog advises that good calving facilities and holding areas where farmers can manage cows remotely are important and can help reduce farmer fatigue.
“Well-prepared calving units with clean bedding, calving gates and the necessary equipment will ensure safety and reduce stress both on farmers and on the animal.”
“With much of calving happening during short and often dull days, or at night, farmers are encouraged to have plenty of well-positioned lights in calving units and around the farmyard as this will greatly improve visibility and safety,” he concluded.