According to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Damien English, the HSA recorded nine farming fatalities in 2021.
The HSA (Health and Safety Authority) was notified of 20 such fatalities the previous year.
The minister said that despite farming fatalities declining by over 50% in this period, the sector remains one of the “most dangerous” to work in, in Ireland.
Furthermore, the HSA is aware of 113 accidents in agriculture in 2021.
Minister English highlighted that there is a “significant” underreporting of non-fatal work-related incidents in agriculture as most are self-employed sole traders.
The minister provided the above information in response to a parliamentary question from the Social Democrat’s Holly Cairns.
She asked the minister to outline his steps to reduce farming-related incidents.
Firstly, in his response, the minister pointed out that in August 2021, the HSA published its Farm Safety Action Plan 2021 – 2024.
The plan aims to reduce fatalities, serious injuries, and ill-health in the agricultural sector.
It has identified five “critical” areas for attention:
- Behaviour, education and training;
- Health and vulnerable persons;
- Tractors; high-risk machinery;
- Livestock handling;
- Buildings, work at height.
Furthermore, he explained that the HSA, through its Agricultural Policy Unit, provides “practical” assistance and support to achieve the goals in the plan.
The Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee will monitor the plan’s implementation.
Meanwhile, in November 2021, the government introduced legislation to make use of PPE and training mandatory for the use of All-Terrain Vehicles in the workplace.
These regulations will come into effect from November 2023. The minister said this timeline will ensure the necessary training and equipment requirements are in place.
In addition to the above, the DAFM, under Minister of State Martin Heydon’s guidance, has a “range” of measures in place.
He said Heydon is in the process of implementing other measures to “incentivise and promote” the issue of farm safety.
Minister English then pointed to the DAFM’s TAMS II scheme. Under the suite of seven TAMS measures, farmers can avail of a “wide” range of farm safety-related investments for grant-aid.
“As part of the TAMS II schemes, health and safety guidelines are included in all building specifications, drawn up by DAFM for the construction of agricultural buildings and structures.”
“Additionally, it is a requirement for all applicants under the TAMS II schemes to complete a half-day of farm safety training.”
Safety equipment scheme
A further initiative the DAFM, in conjunction with the Department of Finance, has is the Accelerated Capital Allowance Scheme for Farm Safety and Disabilities Adaptation Equipment.
The scheme provides accelerated capital allowances at 50% per annum over two years for eligible specified farm safety and adaptive equipment.
Concluding, he said the DAFM supports the AgriAware Farm Safe Schools initiative for 2022. It aims to engage, educate, and empower children to be farm safety ambassadors.