A number of key areas where risks are high for beef farmers were brought to light through a series of live demonstrations at a farm safety event today at Teagasc, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre in Grange Co. Meath.

The event in question was none other than a “Farm Safety Area” at Teagasc BEEF 2018, jointly held by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and Teagasc.

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen was in attendance.

He spoke to a number of people within the agricultural industry present and urged farmers to become more safety aware. With nine fatal accidents on farms so far this year, Minister Breen said that “we need to see that awareness put into operation on a daily basis on all farms”.

The demonstrations focused on a number of key areas where risks are particularly high for beef farmers:

Quad bike operation

The priority of the Health and Safety Authority is to promote training and the use of Personal Protective Equipment.

Quad bikes have been involved in 12 fatal accidents over the last 10 years; there were four quad bike related fatalities in 2017.

These vehicles are becoming more popular and 75% of recent quad bike related fatalities involved persons over 65 years of age.

Tractor operation and visibility issues

Crush injuries inflicted during the operation of tractors are the most common cause of fatal accidents on farms. Most farmers think the PTO is the most dangerous item on the farm.

The HSA is working to change this mind-set so that farmers see the tractor as the biggest risk of death or injury.

Vehicle and trailer weight matching 

New road safety legislation is very specific on towing capacity for different vehicles, including cars, jeeps, tractors. Gardaí, from the specialist Traffic Unit, were demonstrating weight limits for livestock horse boxes and trailers.

Working at height

Falls from height are becoming a more frequent cause of fatal accidents on farms. Efforts are being made to encourage farmers to make use of Mobile Elevated Work Platforms when carrying out work at height. These units were demonstrated.

Speaking at the event today, Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc said:

“We have a comprehensive farm health and safety exhibit in association with the Health and Safety Authority. Along with the key areas such as livestock safety, quad bikes, tractors and vehicles, health promotion will also be strongly emphasised.

“The Irish Heart Foundation is on hand to conduct blood pressure checks and farmer wellness is receiving strong attention.

“The key aim of this event is to support beef farmers and increase profitability. All of the attendees today will see the emerging technologies and farm practices being implemented to achieve this.”

Pat Griffin, Senior Inspector for Agriculture with the HSA said:

“For us this event is a great way to show farmers, through live demonstrations, what good practice looks like and what the consequences of poor practice can be.

“Farmers may not see the danger because they work with machinery and livestock on a daily basis but all it takes is one lapse for a serious accident to occur.”