One-in-four farmers failing to take basic safety precautions

The rate of fatality in the Irish farming sector is ten times higher than the national average

One-in-four farmers failing to take basic safety precautions

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Farmers are being urged to make safety a bigger priority – after a new report found high levels of risk-taking within the sector.

The report, entitled Risk taking and Accidents on Irish Farms, was published by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) this morning.

Farming is the most dangerous occupations in Ireland, with the rate of fatality ten times higher than the national average.

In the last seven years, 138 people have been killed in farming accidents.

Undertaken alongside the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the report found that one-in-four farmers don’t wear basic safety gear, such as high-vis vests or ear defenders, while working.

It also found that 27% of farmers attempt to tackle dangerous jobs on their own, rather than seeking help.

“Many farmers are carrying out risky activities that really require a second person,” said HSA chief executive Mark O’Halloran. “So they are dangerous activities, they are difficult activities.”

“They are trying to carry them out on their own and as a consequence they are leading to serious accidents and fatalities.”

He said the research can provide an insight into the mind-set of farmers - leading to a greater understanding of what is leading to unsafe work practices.

“Many farmers have worked in the construction sector and [...] when they are in that sector we notice that there is good adherence to use of personal protective equipment,” he said.

“But sometimes on the farm, they don’t adhere to that; there is this possible this little sense of invincibility.”

The report found that unmarried farmers were far more likely to takes risks in terms of machinery – while larger farm owners were routinely failing to use safety gear.

Of the 800 farmers responding to the survey, 12% had been personally involved in an accident, 27% had experienced a near miss and 8% reported that someone else had been involved in an accident on their farm.