Farms should be treated as a workplace, not a playground, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Oireachtas Agriculture Committee member, Senator Tim Lombard, has urged all farmers to use the opportunities provided during Farm Safety Week 2017 to improve awareness and safety on their farms.
Senator Lombard said: “We do not allow people to run amok on construction sites because it is too dangerous, and the same must apply for farms; they are a workplace with many potential hazards and should not be treated as a playground.
“It is careless and foolish to allow farms to be treated as such and farmers and visitors alike must take responsibility for personal safety when on a farm.
“Farming has the poorest safety record of any occupation in Ireland. 21 people unfortunately lost their lives in farm accidents during 2016, and increase of 3 from 2015. This increase is especially distressing given that workplace fatalities fell by 21% across all sectors in 2016.
“These bleak statistics don’t even paint the full picture of the devastation a farm accident or fatality has for families, communities and businesses.
“To reduce these accidents there needs to be a greater focus on personnel safety in the farming sector; we must increase awareness of the dangers that exist and take time to minimise those risks, only then will we improve the safety of people working on or even visiting a farm.
“The annual Farm Safety Week is a great program which aims to reduce the number of farming accidents and fatalities through a number of initiatives. Many farm safety events are being held this week and I encourage farmers to take the time to participate in these educational opportunities.
“I would also encourage farmers to use this week as an opportunity to perform risk assessment of their farming operations and avail of the discounts available on safety equipment from retailers nationwide.
“Safety must be a fundamental component of the farming ethos. Even though there are many risks involved within the sector farming does not have to be a dangerous occupation, many accidents that occur are sadly preventable.
“This week isn’t just about raising safety awareness of people working on farms either. Anyone visiting a farm also needs to be made aware of the dangers associated with working farms.
“Farming is a huge part of our lifestyles and communities here in Cork. It is critical that we all take part in educating ourselves about the dangers posed by farming activity and thus improve the safety of our farming sector,” Senator Lombard said.
More information on Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland can be found online at www.ifa.ie/farm-safety or follow @IFAmedia or #FarmSafetyWeek on Twitter.