Irwin urges safety first at all times on farm

Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has said that farm safety must continue to be brought to the fore in conversations especially at key times in the farming calendar.

Saturday, 24th July 2021, 9:02 am

Mr Irwin was responding to statistics published which show that five out of 13 workplace fatalities in Northern Ireland in 2020/21 occurred on farms.

The prevalence of on farm accidents was also reflected in statistics for England, Scotland and Wales, where farms accounted for almost a quarter of all workplace accidents.

Mr Irwin said: “The message of farm safety, avoiding risks and making improvements on farms to reduce risks, is something that must be continually brought to the fore. The statistics make for sobering reading and it is absolutely vital that anyone involved in agriculture realises the risks involved with animals, slurry, machinery and the weather and that they take appropriate steps to reduce the risks and protect themselves.

“With the weather of late being so good there has been a very high level of activity right across the farming community and across the countryside and with that comes longer working days which make use of the lighter evenings. Of course with that, comes a greater degree of fatigue and tiredness and that can contribute to raising the possibility of an accident.”

He continued: “It is so important that as farmers we stop and think and make the types of changes that will lessen the risks for those working on the farm.

“The aftermath of a farm fatality is devastating for any farming family and that grief and the empty seat at the table is something very sobering and it really behoves us all to take extra care.”

Mr Irwin concluded: “A serious accident where serious injury is sustained is also a massive upheaval for the farming family and that person may not be able to return to their full capacity after surviving a farming accident.

“It all points to the importance of risk management and being aware of all the dangers and the Farm Safety week message is one that must continue to resonate loudly the whole year through.”

Figures show that farming has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK. Far too often injuries and fatalities are caused due to the lack of proper equipment and machinery.

HSENI is encouraging the farming community to consider that the cost of a fatality is much more than the cost of using the correct equipment, even if it means hiring additional plant. Falls from height remains one of the main causes of fatalities and major injuries on our farms and many are due to the lack of the proper equipment being used.