Longford Leader Farming: Teagasc offers advice on preventing farm injuries

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Fatal farm accidents showed a reduction in 2018 with 17deaths (provisional figure). This is five fewer than the average for the previous 5 years (22). No farm fatality was recorded in the final quarter of 2018.

Fifty three per cent (9) of fatalities in 2018 were associated with farm vehicles and machinery while a further 29 per cent (5) were associated with livestock. The remaining 18 per cent of deaths (3) were associated with a fall from height, slurry drowning and timber cutting.

Fifty nine per cent (10) of fatalities occurred to persons aged 65 years or older, with half (5) occurring to persons aged 75 or older.

Teagasc Health and Safety Specialist, Dr John McNamara called on farmers to give safety first priority during January and the busy spring period in 2019. He said that the risk of farm accidents rises with increased work activity and prevention is strongly associated with implementing behavioural practices.

Being struck with a moving vehicle is the most frequent cause of farm deaths on Irish farms, so particular vigilance is needed when they are operating, he stated. A vehicle moving at fast walking pace covers about 2 meters per second so it gives a person in its path little chance to avoid impact. Elderly farmers are at particular risk, he added.

Vigilance is also needed when handling livestock, particularly cows around calving. He advised that a freshly calved cow be securely restrained before administering a treatment to their calf.

When the slurry spreading season gets underway from 13th January, vigilance is required with this operation. Power shaft guards need to be in place, a windy day needs to be selected for slurry agitation and all slurry tank openings need to be guarded to prevent drowning.

The Teagasc Health and Safety Specialist also advised farmer to be watching out for unstable loads around the farm. As barns empty-out, it is really important to watch out for unstable stacks of hay or straw which could collapse and cause injury.

A newly revised legal Farm Safety Risk Assessment (green cover) has replaced the previous version (white cover) since the 1st January. Completion of the revised document is a requirement for Food Assurance schemes.

Completion of a Half-day training course on Risk Assessment, or completion of the Green Certificate within the last 5 years, is a mandatory requirement for TAMS11 grant drawdown. Further information can be obtained from Teagasc offices or Agricultural Consultants.