The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has called on farmers and those who work in the agriculture sector to foster a new culture of safety.
The Minister made his comments in his opening address to the National Conference on Health and Safety in Agriculture which took place in the Abbey Hotel, Roscommon last week..
“The challenge that we face is to change behaviour 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. 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,” he remarked
Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority, echoed the Ministers’ 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. 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.”
The FBD sponsored conference is co-hosted by the Health and Safety Authority and Teagasc. The main topics covered were: Changing the Culture, Health in Farming and Livestock Safety. John Bryan, IFA President, chaired the proceedings and he 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.”
A new HSA guide entitled ‘Guidance on Safe Handling of Cattle on Farms’ was launched by Minister Coveney 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 in Grange also provided valuable data that was used in the guide.
Teagasc Director Professor Gerry Boyle stated that Teagasc is strongly committed to continuing to work in partnership with farmers and the 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. 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.”