It’s the law: why you must re­port farm ac­ci­dents

Irish Examiner - Farming - - NEWS - Karen Walsh

Farm­ing can at times be a haz­ardous oc­cu­pa­tion, and it is im­por­tant that all farm­ers are aware of health and safety leg­is­la­tion.

A farmer has cer­tain re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to pre­vent ac­ci­dents from hap­pen­ing, on and off his or her farm. The fa­tal­ity rate in agri­cul­ture is far higher than any other eco­nomic sec­tor.

A large pro­por­tion of all fa­tal work­place ac­ci­dents oc­cur in agri­cul­ture, even though only a small pro­por­tion of the work­force is em­ployed in farm­ing.

The level of farm ac­ci­dents is not de­creas­ing.

And sim­i­lar ac­ci­dents oc­cur each year.

In 2013, 16 peo­ple died on Ir­ish farms. In 2014, that fig­ure al­most dou­bled to 30, with 55% of all work-re­lated deaths cat­e­gorised as farm­ing fa­tal­i­ties. In 2015, 18 peo­ple died on Ir­ish farms.

A per­son is eight times more likely to die whilst work­ing on a farm in Ire­land than in the gen­eral work­ing pop­u­la­tion.

If an ac­ci­dent does oc­cur, a farmer has an obli­ga­tion to re­port it to the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties.

Health and safety in Ire­land is gov­erned by a com­bi­na­tion of com­mon law (judge-made law) and statute. The main leg­is­la­tion pro­vid­ing for the health and safety of peo­ple in the work­place is the Safety, Health and Wel­fare at Work Act 1989, as amended by the Safety, Health and Wel­fare at Work Act 2005 (here­after “the 2005 Act”). The Safety, Health and Wel­fare at Work Act 2005 de­fined an ac­ci­dent as an in­ci­dent aris­ing out of or in the course of em­ploy­ment which, in the case of a per­son car­ry­ing out work, re­sults in per­sonal in­jury. Per­sonal in­jury was de­fined by the 2005 Act as any in­jury, dis­ease, dis­abil­ity, oc­cu­pa­tional ill­ness or any im­pair­ment of phys­i­cal men­tal con­di­tion, and any death that is at­trib­uted to work. Re­cently, changes have been made in re­spect of re­port­ing ac­ci­dents, with the Safety, Health and Wel­fare at Work (Re­port­ing of Ac­ci­dents and Dan­ger­ous Oc­cur­rences) Reg­u­la­tions 2016 (“the Re­port­ing Reg­u­la­tions”). When an ac­ci­dent hap­pens, it must be re­ported to the Health and Safety Au­thor­ity. There is an on­line re­port­ing sys­tem (www.hsa.ie). There are a num­ber of cir­cum­stances in which an ac­ci­dent or in­ci­dent is re­portable to the Health and Safety Au­thor­ity in­clud­ing the fol­low­ing: Where there is a dan­ger­ous oc­cur­rence.

A fa­tal­ity has oc­curred aris­ing out of the ac­ci­dent. An in­jury to an em­ployee where he or she can­not per­form his or her work for more than three days.

An in­jury to a vis­i­tor or mem­ber of the pub­lic where med­i­cal treat­ment is re­quired.

Em­ploy­ers, self-em­ployed in­di­vid­u­als, land­lords, own­ers and ten­ants all have du­ties un­der these reg­u­la­tions to re­port ac­ci­dents or dan­ger­ous oc­cur­rences.

There is an obli­ga­tion to keep records of any re­port­ing of ac­ci­dents for 10 years, if you are re­quired to re­port ac­ci­dents un­der the reg­u­la­tions. In the event of a fa­tal ac­ci­dent, the em­ployer is obliged to im­me­di­ately re­port the ac­ci­dent to the Health and Safety Au­thor­ity.

The scene of the ac­ci­dent has to be pre­served.

The Gar­daí should also be no­ti­fied of all work­place ac­ci­dents re­sult­ing in death. A for­mal re­port of a fa­tal­ity has to be sub­mit­ted within five days to the Health and Safety Au­thor­ity.

In re­spect of a non-fa­tal ac­ci­dent, it should be for­mally re­ported within 10 days of the ac­ci­dent oc­cur­ring.

The Health and Safety Au­thor­ity must also be no­ti­fied of spec­i­fied dan­ger­ous oc­cur­rences, for ex­am­ple, fires, ex­plo­sions and chem­i­cal spillages. As with non-fa­tal ac­ci­dents, these must be no­ti­fied within 10 days to the Health and Safety Au­thor­ity. If a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion arises, work should stop im­me­di­ately un­til the haz­ard or dan­ger is con­trolled. One of the changes in the 2016 reg­u­la­tions is that wind farms are now dealt with in spec­i­fied dan­ger­ous oc­cur­rences. Many landown­ers and farm­ers are leas­ing their lands for the pur­poses of wind farms. The demise or leased land are con­trolled by the wind farm de­vel­op­ers un­der the terms of the lease. but farm­ers should be aware of these new rules. In the event that a wind tur­bine col­lapses, or one of the blades sep­a­rates from the tur­bine, it is now de­fined as a dan­ger­ous oc­cur­rence, and has to be re­ported to the Health and Safety Au­thor­ity within 10 days.

If an ac­ci­dent oc­curs, it is es­sen­tial that you act im­me­di­ately and re­port to the Health and Safety Au­thor­ity or the Gar­dai if re­quired.

It is im­por­tant that ac­ci­dents are re­ported prop­erly in or­der that they can be in­ves­ti­gated by the Health and Safety Au­thor­ity and pre­vented from oc­cur­ring in the fu­ture.

Aoib­heann Man­gan and Padraic God­win, win­ners of the Young Per­son of the Year Award in 2015, for cre­at­ing and de­sign­ing the www.farm­safe­ty4kids.net web­site. Farm­ers can play their part by re­port­ing ac­ci­dents (which they are legally re­quired to do) so they can be in­ves­ti­gated and pre­vented from re-oc­cur­ring.

While ev­ery care is taken to en­sure ac­cu­racy of in­for­ma­tion con­tained in this article, so­lic­i­tor Karen Walsh does not accept re­spon­si­bil­ity for er­rors or omis­sions how­so­ever aris­ing, and you should seek le­gal ad­vice in re­la­tion to your par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble time.

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