Health and safety inspections to be carried out on almost 500 farms in March

Almost 500 farms will be visited by inspectors from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) in March, as part of an intensive, month-long campaign.

The intensive farm inspection campaign is set to begin on March 1, with the HSA placing a particular focus on the safe handling of livestock.

March is a particularly busy period for calving and the risk of serious injury can be very high, so inspectors will be focusing on the common risks encountered and livestock safety in general.

The HSA inspections are aimed at reducing the number of accidents resulting in injury and death on farms.

Pat Griffin, Senior Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, said that although the calving period is a particularly risky time of the year, dangerous situations can be minimised.

“I would encourage Farmers to take time to understand the basics of animal behaviour and be alert for signs of aggression. In particular, care is needed around cows with a newborn calf when they can be unpredictable and much more likely to attack. Never turn your back on a cow with a newborn, have a planned escape route and keep children and inexperienced handlers well away,” he said.

“The calving area should provide adequate space, be tidy, well-bedded with clean straw and be clearly lit and free of obstructions. Also, well designed calving pens and gates are important and help minimise the direct physical contact between the cow, or heifer, and farmer.

“We are currently in a busy period for calving and the risk of injury is very high. Farmers are working long hours, often with broken sleep, so fatigue and general tiredness can also be a factor. Our message is simple, stay alert, don’t take risks and get help when it’s needed. The types of injuries that can be sustained with livestock attacks are very serious and can be life-threatening”.

From 2007 to 2016, there were 26 deaths caused by livestock on farms and in excess of 60{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1} of all farm injuries are livestock-related, according to Teagasc research.

A free guidance document, Safe Handling of Cattle on Farms, is available from the Authority’s website. Access it, along with other helpful info and advice on farm safety matters here.

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