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‘The cost of a fatality is much more than the cost of using the correct equipment’

Jana discusses better prevention of accidents in agriculture.

The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector has a reputation for being the most dangerous sector regarding employees – a reputation, unfortunately, statistics back up.

Workplace health and safety has been a hot-button issue for decades now, and its importance cannot be overstated.

The correct understanding and implementation of health and safety procedures in agriculture could not only reduce the likelihood of minor injuries.

This could also improve workplace efficiency and be the difference between life and death for some.

The statistics

According to the Health and Safety Authority (HAS), there are more than 2,500 serious injuries annually on farms, with many being life-changing.

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These numbers already tell enough of a story, but far worse are the statistics for fatal injuries in agriculture.

Taking into account fatal injuries over the previous decade, work-related deaths in agriculture in the years 2014 and 2017 were higher than all other sectors combined – and a trend showing a continuous increase.

The numbers paint a picture of a hazardous work environment with a high risk of injury in comparison to other professions, perhaps relating to the amount of industrial machinery used in the course of an average day’s work.

Indeed, almost half of all agricultural fatalities in 2011-21 were the result of a vehicle – with 81% of the machinery being 10 years and older.

The causes of death are nonetheless diverse, representing a clear need for diverse accident prevention protocols to be introduced.

Areas for improved accident prevention

As with any industry, there are various methodologies for preventing accidents, which can work concurrently to reduce the overall risks presented by the workplace.

Perhaps, the most important of those methodologies in the long term is that of risk assessment.

Understanding the specific and individual risks presented by your work environment leads to robust practice in handling them and ensures no nasty surprises when it comes to an injury. Risk assessments ultimately result in effective management and implementation of vital health and safety practices.

One such health and safety practice that can make significant differences to potential workplace accidents is wearing personal protective equipment or PPE.

Individual items of PPE can protect from specific hazards, turning what might have been an injury into an inconvenience.

Wearing suitable work gloves when handling heavy equipment can give you the additional traction you need to safely move.

They can also provide protection against not only the elements but hazardous materials such as cleaning chemicals.

Safety goggles can prevent foreign particles or objects from entering the eye when working destructively, and work boots are crucial for preventing crush injuries from falling objects.

Risk assessment 

The Health and Safety Authority has also published a useful document outlining the ways in which agricultural businesses can improve their workplace health and safety in more detail.

This gives employers and workers alike the resources to evaluate the working environment more effectively and make improvements accordingly.

On top of that, the Minister of State with responsibility for Research & Development, Farm Safety and New Market Development, Martin Heydon, has launched the Acceleration of Wear and Tear Allowances for Farm Safety Equipment Scheme back in 2020.

It is still present to support the financing of various quality equipment.

After all, the cost of a fatality is much more than the cost of using the correct equipment.

It is always going to be worth investing in something to protect you and your loved ones.

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