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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Action plan to reduce deaths and serious injuries on farms

The Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee (FSPAC) has published its latest action plan for 2021-2024.

The FSPAC, an advisory committee to the HSA board, is tasked with improving occupational health and safety in the sector.

Over the past decade, more people died in agriculture compared with any other economic sector.

Farm Safety Action Plan 2021-2024

The new Farm Safety Action Plan aims to reduce the level of fatalities, serious injuries, and ill-health in the agriculture sector.

The FSPAC has identified five critical areas for attention:

  1. Behaviour, education and training;
  2. Health and vulnerable persons;
  3. Tractor, high-risk machinery;
  4. Livestock handling;
  5. Buildings, work at height.

The Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD, said,

“The new Farm Safety Partnership, with its multi-stakeholder membership, provides a broad view of the agricultural sector and will be delivering on the key areas where health and safety improvements are needed the most.”

“This action plan is ambitious. Achieving the objectives will be important in our drive to lowering fatalities and serious injuries in the agricultural industry.”

“I would encourage all farmers and business operators in this industry to avail of and use the existing resources, including extensive HSA guidance and the Farm Safety Code of Practice.”

“I would also like to wish the Farm Safety Partnership well in delivering on this action plan over the next four years.”

Behavioural change

Ciaran Roche, the FSPAC chair, said: “The FSPAC has made considerable progress in raising awareness of farm safety.”

“There is also recognition that safety standards across the sector show signs of improvement.”

“However, reducing the overall rate of fatal and serious injuries in the agriculture sector has been slow.”

He believes introducing behavioural change concerning health and safety for farmers will be a “key” part of achieving a sustained reduction in the number of fatal and serious injuries in the sector.

“The FSPAC Action Plan has set out key objectives and initiatives that our members will continue to deliver on.”

He said the core aim is to improve the health and safety of Irish farmers and those who may influencer their behaviour, such as family and peers.

A shared ownership

Dr Sharon McGuinness, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority, welcomed the action plan.

She said: “A shared ownership to improving health and safety in the agricultural sector and the family farm is imperative.”

In the ten-year period from 2011-2020, 208 work-related deaths occurred in agriculture. 51% of these worker victims were 65 years or older.

“The high rate of work-related deaths to older workers indicates that older farmers may need to take special precautions to avoid serious injury or death, particularly when working with vehicles and livestock.”

She stated that the review highlights specific areas of concern.

“I welcome the FSPAC Action Plan in setting out clear steps to improve the health and safety of farmers, protect themselves and their families.”

“The authority remains committed to providing assistance and support to achieve these objectives,” she concluded.

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