“Keep safety to the fore when working over the Christmas and New Year period,” is the main message Minister Martin Heydon is conveying to farmers this festive period.
The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine with special responsibility for Farm Safety, Martin Heydon T.D., said that 12 farms, families and communities have been devastated by an irreversible loss because of fatal incidents on farms this year.
He commented that “to date this year, there have been 12 confirmed fatal incidents on farms in 2022”. This is down on the average of 20 fatal incidents on farms over the last ten years.
Change behaviours and practices
The minister added that fatal and non-fatal incidents could be prevented by changes to our behaviours and practices.
“This must be a priority for the sector if we want to improve the social sustainability of agriculture.”
“Now is a good time to review the year past and make plans for 2023. Safer farming must be central to those,” he added.
He urges all farmers to take time over the Christmas period to review their Farm Safety Code of Practice Risk Assessment.
The minister explained that it is a “useful” tool to help identify where farmers need to take action to minimise the risk of an incident on the farm.
Minister Heydon also reminded farmers of the need to take care of their health.
He said farmers experience a “disproportionate burden” of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, back pain, and stress.
Mental health and well-being
Farmers, he outlined, care for the land, the crops, and the animals but all too often overlook “the most important element” – their own health and well-being.
“Christmas is a time of year that some people can struggle more with their mental health.”
“I am asking farmers and everyone around them to look out for each other and seek help and support if feeling overwhelmed or experiencing poor mental health.”
In addition to your GP, dedicated services and helplines are available to farmers and non-farmers who are experiencing poor mental health and finding it difficult to cope.
Minister Heydon concluded: “One of the best gifts a farmer can give themselves, and their family is a safe farm.”
“As a New Year’s resolution, let’s not take chances when it comes to safety on the farm and prioritise health, safety and well-being in 2023.”