Safe operation of machinery a key focus for farm safety fortnight in the Republic

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Monday 11th of April marks the beginning of an intensive two week farm safety inspection campaign with Inspectors from the Health and Safety Authority visiting roughly 300 farms across the Republic of Ireland.

The key focus of the campaign will be on identifying crush zones and preventing impact injuries, which usually involve tractors and machinery or being caught by an animal that has suddenly turned aggressive.

“I believe many of these crush injuries and deaths are actually caused by excessive workload, pressure, stress, improvising and taking short cuts. These factors coupled with fatigue, can be a lethal combination. By managing workload the risks can be reduced.”

Crush zones are generally between the tractor and an attachment or machine, or within the machine itself. The HSA is encouraging farmers to learn how to recognise these zones and ensure that the risks to themselves and others are controlled. Calving and livestock handling facilities should be designed to minimise the risk of being attacked by aggressive animals.

Speaking about how many of these accidents occur, Pat Griffin Senior Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority says: “I believe many of these crush injuries and deaths are actually caused by excessive workload, pressure, stress, improvising and taking short cuts. These factors coupled with fatigue, can be a lethal combination. By managing workload the risks can be reduced.”

There are few simple steps that can be considered for managing workload:

* Prioritise activities: Make choices about what to do and when to do it. Do the most important jobs first and spread workload out over time.

* Plan ahead: Allocate enough time for daily activities and plan for busy seasonal periods. Consider getting extra help at very busy periods where fatigue becomes a major factor.

* Pacing: Organise a routine so on average the same amount of work is done each day. Plan what is going to be done rather than responding to what needs to be done.

During ‘Farm Safety Fortnight’ the authority will also be highlighting the importance of safety for young children on farms.

“Children should have safe play areas away from work activity, and in full view of the farm house. They should be given clear instruction on safety issues and kept away from dangerous areas such as slurry pits, working machinery and high areas,” says Pat Griffin.

For more information on tractor safety and child safety on farms visit www.hsa.ie.