Minister of State with special responsibility for Farm Safety at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Heydon, TD, discusses Farm Safety Week 2021.
I very much welcome that the IFA is leading the 9th annual Farm Safety Week.
Farm Safety Week 2021
It is important that every organisation involved in agriculture continually raises the need for farmers to farm safely.
I am delighted to see the farm body getting fully behind this initiative. With the campaign’s focus this year being to rethink risk, now is the time for all farmers to stop and think about how they work on their farm.
We must stop taking chances, stop the old habits and stop condoning bad practice.
It is important that all farming organisations encourage farmers to change their behaviours in relation to farm safety.
While there are many risks in farming, farming does not have to be a dangerous occupation. Behavioural change is what is required to prevent many accidents.
It is a case of being aware of the risks and taking the time to do what is necessary to minimise them.
Farm Risk Assessment
There are plenty of ways to reduce the risk, without spending huge money. The first of these is to complete a Farm Risk Assessment.
This also means undertaking a detailed and honest appraisal of the safety risks on your farm.
When doing a risk assessment, you should get someone in to do the risk assessment with you.
Fresh eyes will see risks that you have become accustomed to and no longer realise are present.
Once you have completed the risk assessment, you need to start continuously working to remove and contain all of the risks.
Farm accidents in Ireland
To date this year, there have been three fatal incidents on Irish farms. Over the last ten years, there have been 21 fatal incidents on our farms each year.
Now is the time to redouble our efforts in relation to safety, to continue to reduce the risk and to work towards the behavioural change that is required to keep the rate of fatal incidents down.
No individual action or organisation can solve this difficult problem that impacts so negatively on so many lives each year.
We must all work together and review our attitude to safety on our farms.
Farmers need to be reminded to think, ‘am I doing enough’ to ensure there are no incidents on their own farm.
It is through farmers taking individual action that we can reduce the number of farm incidents.
Farm safety is an ongoing issue, and it is important that farmers think safety first in all the tasks they perform, no matter the pressure.
Lastly, I would like to commend the IFA. I urge all farmers to embrace safe farming systems fully and to rethink the risks they take.