Link­ing safety to pay­ments ‘will only add to farm pres­sure’

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS - CLAIRE FOX

FARM or­gan­i­sa­tions re­main stead­fast that safety should not be linked to pay­ments de­spite the ris­ing num­ber of ac­ci­dents and deaths on Ir­ish farms.

Their stance comes as the Health and Safety Author­ity (HSA) an­nounced that they have been granted per­mis­sion to hire 11 more in­spec­tors in an ef­fort to curb the amount of farm fa­tal­i­ties, which have now risen to 18 this year.

ICMSA pres­i­dent John Comer told the Farm­ing In­de­pen­dent that link­ing farm pay­ments to health and safety mea­sures would only in­crease “the con­stant pres­sure” that is al­ready placed on farm­ers.

“ICMSA doesn’t believe that the way to go about ad­dress­ing the ter­ri­ble rates of farm deaths and ac­ci­dents is by adding an­other layer of in­spec­tion, stress and anx­i­ety to the farmer’s sched­ule, which is al­ready no­table for huge and in­ten­sive work­loads for what are in­creas­ingly one-per­son op­er­a­tions,” he said.

IFA farm fam­ily chair­per­son Maura Can­ning be­lieves ed­u­ca­tion rather than link­ing farm safety to pay­ments is the best way to en­sure safety.

“Aware­ness and edu- cation pro­grammes to sup­port farm­ers to change be­hav­iour are the best way to re­duce farm ac­ci­dents,” she said.

“Any link be­tween farm safety and pay­ments will not bring about the sus­tained be­havioural change that is re­quired to make our farms safer and will only add to the stress on farm fam­i­lies.”

INHFA pres­i­dent Colm O’Don­nell called on the Gov­ern­ment to set up an aware­ness course that all farm­ers would be obliged to com­plete as the cur­rent safety cam­paigns were not go­ing far enough.

“The aware­ness cam­paigns haven’t worked. All farm­ers should do an aware­ness course funded by the Gov­ern­ment. In light of re­cent catas­tro­phes, some­thing more for­mal needs to be put in place,” he said.

Pat Griffin of the HSA said that 2017 is set to be a bad year for farm ac­ci­dents, as 18 have al­ready died this year and the av­er­age num­ber of deaths for a whole year is 20.

“This is go­ing to be a fairly bad year for farm safety. If you look at the last 10 years, we’ve 197 deaths, that’s an av­er­age of 20 per year — we’re nearly at 20 at this stage al­ready, and the year isn’t over. Things need to change and we need to re­think what we’re do­ing.”

New farm safety and men­tal health or­gan­i­sa­tion, Aware­ness Head to Toe, had its first open day last Satur­day in Gorey, Co Wex­ford. Chair­per­son and cham­pion sheep shearer Ge­orge Gra­ham (pic­tured) said that if a farmer has poor men­tal health, they will be less con­cerned with farm safety, and it’s im­por­tant to make farm­ers aware of this link.

“It’s about look­ing af­ter your­self from the top of your head to your feet. There’s a se­ri­ous lack of ser­vices in ru­ral Ire­land and with­out ser­vices like the Sa­mar­i­tans, we’d be in dire straits,” he said.

“Farm­ers pre­fer be­ing talked with rather than down to. There’s so much pres­sure on farm­ers, and they’re al­ways rush­ing.

“We want to en­gage with them and make them re­alise that ac­ci­dents can hap­pen in a split sec­ond on a farm.”

Speak­ing about the is­sue of farm safety, Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture Michael Creed said: “While there are many risks in farm­ing, farm­ing does not have to be a dan­ger­ous oc­cu­pa­tion. We must all work to­gether with the sin­gle goal of pre­vent­ing ac­ci­dents and there­fore sav­ing lives and min­imis­ing se­ri­ous in­juries.

“Safety must be­come an in­te­gral part of farm­ing cul­ture.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.