Staying safe on the farm this spring

Patrick Bolger

| General

| Apr 18, 2018

Farmer in shed with cattle

A farm is a dangerous place to work at. Powerful tractors and machinery, unpredictable livestock, slurry pits and chemicals. One third of workplace deaths in Ireland happen in the agricultural sector. Along with fatalities, approximately 1,800 accidents occur on farms every year with many of them causing serious injuries and disabilities to farmers.

The best way to protect you, your family and anyone working or visiting the farm is to identify the hazards and, where possible, eliminate or reduce the risks.

There are legal frameworks in place to help farmers reduce risks on farms. The number of people who work on the farm will determine your legal requirements for farm safety.

How do I comply with Health and Safety laws?

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires that all farmers with more than 3 employees complete a Safety Statement.

Farmers with 3 employees or less can comply with the requirement by adhering to the Farm Safety Code of Practice, completing the Farm Safety Risk Assessment and implementing the appropriate control measures.

What is a Farm Safety Statement?

A Safety Statement is a programme in writing aimed at minimising exposure to risk of injury or ill-health for all who work on the farm, or who may be affected by that work. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 places the duty of preparing and implementing the statement on the person in control of the farm. A comprehensive safety statement, where acted upon, is likely to reduce accidents on your farm. A good safety statement may also help in a compensation claim because, if it is acted on, it may well convince a judge that the employer was not negligent.

Click here to download the HSE guidelines

What is the Farm Safety code of practice?

The farm safety code of practice is a Risk Assessment Document for Farms with Three or Less Employees.

Click here to download the HSE assessment document

How do I make the farm a safer place?

Here are a few tips:

  • Prepare a Farm Safety Risk Assessment Document and a Safety Statement and ensure everybody who works on your farm reads and understands it.
  • Make sure that the PTO and the PTO shaft are covered properly and always disengage the PTO before you get out of the tractor.
  • Only allow people who have received appropriate training to drive tractors. Children must be over 16 years old and hold a provisional driving licence before they can drive in a public area.
  • Always use appropriate handling facilities when dealing with livestock. Pay extra attention during periods of heightened animal excitement, especially in the calving and breeding season. Cows, and heifers in particular, can be extremely protective of their calves.
  • Keep slurry tanks covered properly and lagoons fenced off.
  • Where possible plan things out before doing them and avoid rushing tasks unnecessarily.

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