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Minister Breen convenes first meeting of Farm Safety Task Force

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, whose remit includes workplace health and safety, today chaired the first meeting of a task force brought together to look at possible policy changes to assist the agricultural sector improve its safety record.

The task force is made up of representatives from various Government Departments and State Agencies, who are identified as having a role to play in deciding on the appropriateness of certain policy changes. These changes were suggested by agricultural sector representatives following Minister Breen’s and Minister Creed’s meeting with those organisations in May 2017.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Breen said: “For too many years, Farming and the Agricultural sector has suffered the largest number of workplace fatalities in Ireland. The number of deaths in the sector is completely disproportionate to the numbers employed. In an attempt to change this, last year I asked sector representatives to identify policy changes that they believed could help improve the situation.

“Today I have presented the submissions received to the various policy-making Departments or Agencies to find out what it is possible to introduce and what may not be. There is clearly no immediate solution to this continuing issue, but I am convinced that by working together, the State and the farming Community can bring about positive change and reduce deaths”, Minister Breen continued.

The task force was the result of a suggestion by the agricultural sector and from the Board of the Health and Safety Authority. The matters discussed by the task force covered a wide range and included items on education, training and the age profile of farmers.

In 2017, 24 persons died while at work in agriculture. This represents more than 50% of the workplace fatalities recorded by the HSA for the year (47). To date this year, three people from the farming community have lost their lives in work-related accidents.

The Minister indicated that the task force convened today will meet again and firm proposals will emerge. Following the identification of actions Minister Breen will discuss them with his colleague Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.

The Minister is again calling on farmers to stay safe, think about their actions and consider work practices on a daily basis.

ENDS

For further information contact Press Office, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation: Phone: 01- 6312200; email: press.office@dbei.gov.ie.

Background note:

In September 2017 Minister of State, Pat Breen T.D. launched a new schedule for training on the revised ‘Farm Safety Code of Practice’.

Further information on farm safety available at www.hsa.ie  

Review of old COP

The revised ‘Code of Practice (COP) for Preventing Injury and Occupational Ill-Health in Agriculture’ (Farm Safety Code of Practice) is the result of a review that took over 12 months. Many sections of the COP were given to Farm Safety Partnership members, inspectorate staff or to industry experts for their consideration, comment and further development.

The revised COP is to help farmers meet their duties under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and came into operation on Saturday July 1st, 2017. The previous version is being phased out over a period of 18 months. 

Risk Assessment document

The risk assessment document can be used in place of a safety statement and, if implemented properly, will make a farm a safe place to work and live. The risk assessment is a practical and dynamic document that works by giving the farmer information that will help to identify hazards. Once identified they can then look at what control measures and safety practices need to be put in place. Once the risk assessment element is completed and put into practice, it allows farmers to meet their obligations under workplace health and safety legislation.  

Agriculture Fatalities

Statistics from the Health and Safety Authority show that fatalities are 8 times more likely from working on a farm in Ireland than in the general working population.

While the Agriculture sector represents approximately 6% of the working population it consistently has the highest proportion of fatal incidents of any sector generally ranging between 35% and 45% of all workplace fatalities in any given year. 

Practical advice for farmers

  • Get training on how to use the ‘Farm Safety Code of Practice’;
  • Plan work with safety as a priority and wear appropriate footwear;
  • Be careful and have the right equipment when moving round bales, as these bales have been involved in a significant      number of fatalities;
  • Be aware how winter weather can make working on land more hazardous;
  • Keep a charged mobile phone with you at all times;
  • Take particular care when working at height which can be even more dangerous in windy conditions. 
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