Irish Minister launches SAFE STOP disc-holder for tractor and farm vehicles

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The Republic’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, has launched a new a ‘SAFE STOP’ disc-holder for tractor and farm vehicles at the Irish Health and Safety Authority (HSA) exhibit at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Tullamore, Co Offaly.

The new ‘SAFE STOP’ disc-holder can be fixed to the windscreen of any tractor or farm vehicle.

“I would call on all farmers to become more aware of the many potential situations where they risk having, or causing, a fatal injury on their farms. Accidents involving tractors and farm vehicles have been the most common cause of death on farms for the last 10 years so this is clearly an area that we need to focus on.”

Mitchell O’Connor, Republic of Ireland Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

It gives six, easy to follow, steps on how to stop safely and reduce the risks of serious and fatal crush injuries that occur when the driver has left the cab and the vehicle moves suddenly.

It was produced by the HSA with the assistance of the Farm Safety Partnership and is aimed at anyone who regularly operates tractors on the farm or roadway.

To date in 2016 there have been 12 fatalities in the agriculture sector. Seven of these have involved tractors and machinery, with crush injuries being prevalent.

Speaking about safety around farm vehicles, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “I would call on all farmers to become more aware of the many potential situations where they risk having, or causing, a fatal injury on their farms.

“Accidents involving tractors and farm vehicles have been the most common cause of death on farms for the last 10 years so this is clearly an area that we need to focus on.

“Also, many of the injuries that occur ruin the lives and livelihoods of farming families. By following the HSA ‘SAFE STOP’ procedure the risks can be reduced and we can make farms safe places in which to work and live.”

The six ‘SAFE STOP’ steps are:

* Reverse park safely

* Apply appropriate breaking system

* Put controls in neutral

* Lower all attachments

* Switch off engine

* Remove the key from the vehicle

Professor Jim Phelan, Chair of the Farm Safety Partnership, says that there are new resources regularly being made available to farmers on safety and health.

Prof Phelan said: “Over the last number of years the HSA and the Farm Safety Partnership have produced risk assessment tools, codes of practice, guidance, video content and run media campaigns aimed at reducing accident rates in the farming community.

“This new ‘SAFE STOP’ procedure can be followed at no cost and will prevent many unnecessary deaths and injuries occurring.

“I believe that farmers are very enthusiastic about safety but familiarity with large machinery does lead to complacency, we have to work against that and remember safety must be considered when carrying out all tasks on the farm.”

The new “SAFE STOP” disc-holder is freely available from the HSA at their exhibit at the National Ploughing Championships, stand no 247, row 10.

According to the Irish Health and Safety Authority another quite striking area of concern is the number and severity of accidents occurring when working at height on farm buildings.

In the last five year period (2011 to 2015), nine people have lost their lives in Ireland while carrying out work at height in the agriculture sector. Many more have suffered serious injuries, some resulting in permanent life-changing disabilities.

Before carrying out any work at height around the farm involving minor repairs on sheds, on buildings or on silos, famers are encouraged to ask themselves, “are you competent and have you the right equipment to carry out the work safely?”

Copies of a new Working at height in Agriculture information sheet are available at www.hsa.ie and from the HSA exhibit at (stand no 247, row 10).