Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Marine, and Food, Simon Coveney TD, called on farmers and those who work in the agriculture sector to foster safety at the National Conference on Health and Safety in Agriculture this June, according to a report from Ireland’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
“The challenge that we face is to change behavior and attitudes so that safe working becomes second nature. In recent years the number of fatal accidents in agriculture has been higher than in any other sector,” Coveney said. “The industry is expanding and creating new jobs and this is to be welcomed. However, we don’t want to see a corresponding increase in lives lost.”
Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority, echoed the minister's concerns about the potential for further increased accidents in agriculture and related industries. “As the activity level in agriculture increases so does the risk of increased fatalities, injuries and work related illness,” he said. “We are committed to working with the key players in the agriculture sector to reduce fatalities, accidents, and work-related ill health. This approach of working in partnership with the strategic partners has been proven to work in other sectors such as construction.”
John Bryan, IFA president, chaired the proceedings and reaffirmed his support for the Farm Safety Partnership in promoting increased awareness at farm level. “The Farm Safety Partnership has real focus on the key issues and has introduced initiatives in the areas of tractor safety, child safety and livestock safety. Each of these is important in delivering the overall safety message. There must also be an emphasis on getting information to older farmers, who are particularly vulnerable," he said.
Coveney launched a new HSA guide, Guidance on Safe Handling of Cattle on Farms, at the conference. The guide was developed with assistance from members of the livestock safety working group of the Farm Safety Partnership.
The Teagasc Research Centre also provided valuable data for the guide. Teagasc director, Prof. Gerry Boyle said Teagasc is committed to continuing to work in partnership with farmers through Ireland's Farm Safety Partnership. “I would appeal to farmers to use our advisory and training services for health and safety to improve on-farm standards and practices,” he said. “We are currently conducting seven research studies related to health and safety in agriculture and we will then ensure that these findings are implemented at farm level.” (WCxKit)
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