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Almost 1,000 farm inspections conducted by HSA in 2017

Some 966 farm inspections and investigations have been carried out by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) so far in 2017, according to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

That is just under 25{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1} of the total number of inspections – 4,075 – carried out by the HSA in 2017 to date.

Already this year there has been a high level of farm fatalities with a total of 12 people losing their lives on Irish farms in 2017. Seven of these 12 fatalities involved farmers aged 70 or over.

Over the past decade, the number of HSA farm inspections and investigations has fluctuated from year-to-year.

In 2010, just 1,646 inspections and investigations were carried out; this rose to a high of 3,136 during 2012. Last year, a little over 2,000 inspections and investigations were conducted by the HSA.

The HSA expects to spend €287,000 on farm safety initiatives during 2017, according to the minister; this would equate to close to 19{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1} of the HSA’s total proposed expenditure on safety initiatives for the entire year.

The budget for farm safety initiatives has dropped by almost €100,000 year-on-year; an estimated €384,000 was spent by the HSA on farm safety initiatives in 2016, figures show.

In comparison to other years, this would be the first year since 2011 that the HSA’s expenditure on farm safety initiatives drops below €300,000 if the proposed expenditure figures become a reality.

Visits to farms by inspectors include routine unannounced inspections to monitor compliance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (2005); to monitor other health and safety regulations; and to investigate fatal or serious farm accidents, the minister said.

In 2017, the HSA is carrying out three focused farm campaigns; each one a month in duration.
“The first focused on animal handling, the second on working with machinery, and the third [one is set to focus] on working from heights.

“Since 2014, the HSA has redirected some of its inspection resources to engaging directly with farmers on other accident prevention initiatives,” she said.

This approach continues in 2017, particularly through the Knowledge Transfer Groups. All facilitators of Knowledge Transfer Groups have now been trained in occupational health and safety by both Teagasc and the HSA.

Results of the HSA’s most recent month-long farm inspection campaign – which focused on safety around machinery – are expected to be released in the coming weeks.

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