Farm Safety Partnership launches its action plan

Pictured at the launch of The Farm Safety Partnership Action Plan 2017-2020 are (left-right) James Speers, president of the Young Farmers' Clubs of Ulster, Keith Morrison, chairman of the Farm Safety Partnership and farmer, James Chapman. Pictures: Michael Cooper'
Pictured at the launch of The Farm Safety Partnership Action Plan 2017-2020 are (left-right) James Speers, president of the Young Farmers' Clubs of Ulster, Keith Morrison, chairman of the Farm Safety Partnership and farmer, James Chapman. Pictures: Michael Cooper'

The Farm Safety Partnership of which the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster is part of, has launched its new Action Plan 2017-2020, entitled ‘Sustainable Safety’, highlighting its ongoing practical approach to every day farm safety.

Improving farm safety is of critical importance to the farming community today in Northern Ireland, and the FSP has worked tirelessly over the last five years to change the mind-set and behaviour of farmers and their families.

Left to right are YFCU president James Speers, agricultural journalist Richard Wright, Keith Morrison, chairman of the Farm Safety Partnership and UFU president Barclay Bell at the launch of the Farm Safety Partnership Action Plan 2017-2020. Pictures: Michael Cooper

Left to right are YFCU president James Speers, agricultural journalist Richard Wright, Keith Morrison, chairman of the Farm Safety Partnership and UFU president Barclay Bell at the launch of the Farm Safety Partnership Action Plan 2017-2020. Pictures: Michael Cooper

While much progress has been made, there remains much work to be done.

A 2015 survey of Northern Ireland farmers suggests that there could be as many as 100 incidents per month on farms which require some form of medical intervention, many of these needing hospital treatment.

At this level, it is sadly unsurprising that some of the more serious incidents can result in life changing injury or death.

Speaking at the launch Keith Morrison, chairman of the Farm Safety Partnership said: “Farming and food production play a crucial role in the life and economy of Northern Ireland.

YFCU president James Speers was involved in a Q&A at the launch of the Farm Safety Partnership Action Plan. Pictures: Michael Cooper

YFCU president James Speers was involved in a Q&A at the launch of the Farm Safety Partnership Action Plan. Pictures: Michael Cooper

“But unfortunately we have also seen farming in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

“All too often accidents happen on our farms which are preventable, so we want to continue to raise awareness for everyone working on, or visiting, a farm.

 “HSENI is committed to working with our industry partners to inform and support their actions and drive forward improvements in farmers’ safety and health.

“We know that we need to continue to work with farmers of all ages to tackle the poor safety record and make farms safer places to work.”

The key aim of this new three-year plan is to: “To change behaviours by ensuring that farmers, their families and their employees are capable, motivated, and able to work safely and thereby reducing accidents on farms.”

“To this end, it is the firm belief of the FSP that by working together a sustainable reduction in injury rates and occupational ill health in the Northern Ireland farming industry is achievable.

YFCU president James Speers said: “The Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster is a committed member of the Farm Safety Partnership and we understand the importance of delivering the farm safety message to our members as they are the farmers of the future.

“We’re very proud of our team of YFCU members who have been trained by HSENI as farm safety ambassadors and they will continue to deliver farm safety talks to Young Farmers’ Clubs throughout Northern Ireland as well as other outside organisations such as Girl Guides, the Boys’ Brigade and primary schools.

“We know that we need to engage with people to make farms safer places to work and we’re encouraging all our members and the wider public to get involved in spreading the farm safety message.”

Also speaking at the launch, Barclay Bell, president Ulster Farmers’ Union, said: “We all know there are many pressures on farmers, not least prices and the weather, but the greatest threat to any farming business is an accident that leaves a family member unable to work or worse.

 “We have made some progress in changing farmers’ approach to risk, but there is still a big challenge ahead. That is why from the start of the Farm Safety Partnership the UFU has played an active role and will continue to do so.”