The intensification of farming will lead to more farm accidents than the annus horribilis that 2014 has been unless vigilance on farms is dialled up, the founder of farm fatality support group Embrace Farm has said in launching a major awareness initiative.
Speaking at the launch of ‘What’s Left Behind!’ - a series of videos with testimonies of families that have endured tragic loss in farm accidents - by Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Defence Simon Coveney, TD, at the Health & Safety Authority marquee at the National Ploughing Championships, founder of Embrace Farm Brian Rohan said that risks with farming in the years ahead are going to grow at the same pace as farming intensifies.
Embrace Farm today launched the first in its series of video testimonies with the story around the fall-out following the death of Offaly hurling U-21 manager Dermot Hogan this summer. The video – which can be viewed on www.hsa.ie - shows the deep emotional scars and practical problems that the popular GAA figure’s death has left.
“Farming is long since Ireland’s most dangerous industry. Last year it was responsible for 40pc of workplace deaths, with 17 deaths across the year. There were 10 deaths at the end of September in 2013 but this year has been even worse, with 21 already. That’s a 110pc increase and you have to fear we are not at the end of it.
“Farming has become much more mechanised over recent decades and that has clearly increased the risk. My concern is that as farming intensifies over the coming years, it could get worse. The ending of quotas, for example, is going to see a lot of young farmers, in particular, increasing their herd size. That’s going to mean more animals, more silage to be harvested, more machinery on farms and generally more activity. That equates to greater risk.”
Introducing the ‘What’s left behind!’ campaign, Mr Rohan, whose father Liam died at the age of 74 two years ago following an accident at the family farm in Shanahoe, Co. Laois, said that the videos featuring four farm families that have suffered great loss will give an insight into the emotional and practical loss associated with farm accidents.
“We are essentially with these videos trying to illustrate, as our campaign theme says, ‘what’s left behind’ as a result of farm fatalities. What’s left behind is awful, make no mistake about it and its essentially across two strands. There’s the terrible emotional pain that is so obvious but then there’s the huge practical pain, that many people don’t realise at the time, of who picks up the pieces. Who farms the farm when the farmer dies?
“We are asking for farmers and their wives, children or parents, to ensure their man or woman on the farm takes extra care, not least now as farming is intensifying. We all know the risks so if you think there’s a risk on your farm, make it safe,” he said.
Launching the campaign, Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Defence Simon Coveney commended the Rohan family on the initiative. “Brian Rohan and his family endured the ultimate pain because of a farm fatality but they are using their terrible experience to try and effect improvement in farm safety and that is hugely commendable.
“The families who have agreed to open up and tell their painful stories in these videos are following the Rohan family lead and we owe them a debt of gratitude for the courage they have shown. In the midst of their pain they are thinking of others by trying to alert them to the dangers. That is hugely admirable and if the first in the series of their videos is anything to go by, their efforts will inspire greater safety and in that they will have done an immense service.”