Farm safety continues to be a huge issue on farms nationwide, with 22 fatalities recorded in 2011. Now that the summer has begun, children will be spending more time on the farm and in the countryside during the busiest time of the farming year, and child safety must be at the forefront of everybody’s mind.
Agri Aware, in association with FBD, the IFA and ESB Networks have just launched a Farm and Countryside Safety educational initiative which will run from May to December 2012. Launched by Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Family Farm (developed by Agri Aware and Dublin Zoo) in Dublin Zoo, the project aims to increase awareness of potential dangers on the farm and to reduce the number of farm accidents.
This week, primary schools in Offaly will receive their Farm and Countryside Safety pack which includes a safety awareness poster and a farm safety trail that can be completed either in Family Farm or online at www.thefamilyfarm.ie, with prizes on offer for completed trails. The pack also includes details of Agri Aware’s safety calendar competition, which challenges students to draw or paint a picture that depicts farm safety. A selection of entries will then be exhibited in the Family Farm classroom with the 12 winning entries featuring in Agri Aware’s Farm and Countryside safety calendar for 2013, which will be distributed to primary schools across the country in December 2012.
Speaking at the launch of Agri Aware’s Farm and Countryside Safety, Minister McEntee highlighted the very high rate of serious accidents on farms compared to other industries stating,“Statistics show that accidents on farms cause more workplace deaths than all other occupations combined. It is also clear that the most vulnerable people to accidents and injury in the farming sector are the old and the young”. Minister McEntee went on to say that this problem could only be tackled by education and raising awareness within the farming community.
Bernard Donohue, Chairman of Agri Aware said, “Knowledge in the hands of children will empower them. We must ensure that our children are aware of the potential hazards and dangers on farms and I encourage schools and parents to get their children involved with this initiative”.
Conor Gouldson, Company Secretary with FBD said, “It is a fact that 90% of farm accidents could be prevented by managing health and safety on the farm. It is therefore essential to continue increasing awareness amongst the youth of Ireland’s farming community and promote valuable educational initiatives like this.”
Eddie Downey, Deputy President of the IFA commented, “Whilst we are delighted to be involved in such a fantastic initiative, we are also saddened that the safety of children on farms is something that needs to be addressed. Children are always welcome on the farm, but they must remember that it is a place of work, not a playground. It is also up to them to inform adults working on the farm of the potential dangers that they can spot and that need to be made safe.”
Bart Moriarty, ESB Networks Manager Infrastructure added, “ESB Networks is committed to providing a safe and reliable electricity network infrastructure throughout the country and recognises the importance of highlighting the need for safety among the public, and especially our young people. We are delighted that Agri Aware is promoting this initiative.”