Farm Safety Week 2018: Peer to peer farm safety initiative launched by IFA
Monday marked the start of the sixth annual Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland, an initiative led by the IFA in Ireland, aiming to reduce the number of accidents on farms and bring about a change in culture that makes unsafe practices socially unacceptable.
The message for this year’s campaign is: Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice.
Farm Safety Week is supported by a number of agencies, including the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee.
This year the campaign is taking a slightly different approach. Rather than focusing on agriculture’s poor safety record and stories of things going wrong, Farm Safety Week 2018 will start talking about when things go right, sharing good practice and demonstrating what ‘good’ looks like.
Farming continues to have one of the poorest safety records of any sector in Ireland, last year 24 people lost their lives in farm accidents and 11 people have lost their lives so far in 2018.
Reacting to these figures, Joe Healy, IFA President said: “The statistics are stark but statistics don’t tell the whole story – they don’t tell you about the devastating impact a farm fatality has on families and communities; they don’t tell you the impact a farm accident can have on the rest of your life, on your ability to run the farm.
“Understanding the risks on and around a farm operation makes it easier to avoid dangers, and makes accidents less likely. However, all too often farmers do not recognise the risks on their farms, which makes it difficult to manage the problem. Sometimes, all that is needed is a fresh pair of eyes to help identify risks and to enable change.
New IFA Farm Safety Initiative & Health and Safety appointment
“That is why this year the IFA is appointing a Farm Health and Safety Executive to implement a pilot farmer-to-farmer peer learning initiative at branch level, to advise farmers about potential risks and educate them to become safety ambassadors within their communities. The farmers who get involved in the initiative will help to mentor each other by, for example, walking each other’s farms to identify potential risks and visualise how safety works in a real life situation.
“This kind of informal learning has been shown to be effective because the people involved have the potential to adapt the programme to meet their needs and develop their own approaches to improve safety on the farm.
William Shortall has been appointed as IFA Health and Safety Executive to lead farm safety promotion and the new peer-to-peer initiative.
William has worked as a Regional Development Officer with IFA since 2007. He holds a Diploma in Agricultural Engineering and has recently completed a Higher Diploma in Safety, Health and Welfare at Work.
Sharon McGuinness, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority said: “Farming is still the most dangerous sector in which to work and although awareness of the issues is high, we’re not seeing this translate into a sustained reduction in fatalities. Farmers must take responsibility to prioritise safety, especially when working with tractors and machinery which are the biggest cause of fatal accidents. Farmers should keep all machinery in good working order and have the necessary competence and experience to operate.”
Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture said “There are a lot of risks in farming but farming doesn’t have to be a dangerous occupation if you are aware of the risks. We have definitely seen an increased awareness of farm safety, thanks to initiatives like Farm Safety Week, and now we need to build this awareness into action and behavioural change.”
Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen has welcomed Farm Safety Week 2018 and the opportunity it presents to highlight the ongoing need for greater attention to safety in farming.
In addition, the Minister welcomed the inclusion of a mental health element to the campaign theme stating that “While farmers are used to caring for, and nurturing their land and their animals they can at the same time neglect their own health.”
Gerry Boyle, Director Teagasc said, “Teagasc strongly supports the UK and Ireland Farm Safety Week. This year’s theme, Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice, reflects the importance of farm health and safety and the fact that practical engagement of farmers’ is essential for progress. Teagasc is supporting a new a four-year PhD Walsh Fellowship on farmer cardiovascular health improvement in association with IT Carlow Centre for Men’s Health, Irish Heart Foundation and the UCD College of Health and Agricultural Sciences.”
For info on Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland visit www.ifa.ie/farm-safety or follow @IFAmedia on Twitter #FarmSafetyWeek