There is no room for complacency with farm safety, says LMC

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As Farm Safety Week gets underway the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) will join with stakeholders from across the agricultural industry to emphasise the importance of safe working practices on farms.

63% of Northern Ireland work related fatalities occurred in the agriculture, construction & manufacturing sectors in 2021-22, according to recent statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland. With ill health, serious injury and fatality rates for the agriculture industry remaining persistently high, the time to act is now, according to LMC chief executive, Ian Stevenson.

He said: “Farming continues to have the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK and Ireland and ranks as one of the most dangerous professions that any person can aspire to undertake.

“The summer months are typically busier periods on farm with much work undertaken on the land, particularly when the weather is favourable. It’s also a time when more people are likely to be in and around farmyard areas, especially children who may be off for the summer holidays. Time pressure and labour availability are frequently cited as leading challenges within the industry. Yet, nothing will present as big a challenge to a farm business as a serious injury, or a fatal accident.”

LMC CEO Ian Stevenson. Picture: Cliff DonaldsonLMC CEO Ian Stevenson. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
LMC CEO Ian Stevenson. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The LMC call to think safety first coincides with Farm Safety Week which will run from 17-21 July. Now in its eleventh year this annual event raises awareness of the impacts of farm accidents on the industry and community and promotes the importance of farming safely.

Stephanie Berkeley, manager of the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity leading the campaign said: “While there are signs that attitudes and behaviours are changing in the industry, this change is not coming fast enough – especially for those that have been affected by life-changing or life-ending incidents across the UK and Ireland over the past year.”

Concluding Ian echoed these sentiments: “Over recent years much positive change has been initiated within the industry, particularly through the work of the Farm Safety Partnership of which LMC is an Affiliate Member, but with a persistently poor safety record, it is evident that more must be done.

“The bottom line is that safety is the responsibility of all who enter the farmyard. We can all take a moment to assess a job before starting, but no one can turn back time after a major injury or fatality has occurred. There is no room for complacency when it comes to farm safety. I would urge all farm workers and those coming on to farms to undertake work with large and heavy machinery to stop, think about safety and take all precautions necessary.”