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Summer safety on farm

Summer is always a very busy time on farms and there is so much happening with silage, harvesting of crops and ongoing management of livestock, but we all need to remain mindful of health and safety on the farm. Marion Fox, Drystock Advisor, Teagasc Athenry focuses on a few areas to consider

Everyone is thinking of the price increases and their effects on the farming enterprise but let us not forget health and safety or we might not be around to worry. There are a few simple things we all should have a look at this summer. If there is work needed the majority of it won’t require a huge amount of investment but could make the difference between life and death if an accident were to occur. July is a ‘danger month’ on farms during the last 10 years so we don’t want this trend to continue. 

PTO Covers

Farmers should ensure that all guards and protective covers are in place. PTO covers and chains, including O guards and U guards should be checked for signs of wear or damage. Check hydraulic oil hoses, rams and couplings to ensure there are no signs of deterioration. Repair or replace where required. When carrying out these checks, beware of the risk of high pressure oil escaping and injuring your skin or eyes.

Cattle Slats

Slatted sheds will often be power washed during the summer months and it is a great opportunity to have a look at the condition of the slats. The majority of people don’t realise that the lifespan of slats done to grant specification is about 20 years. Intensive use of slats, slurry reaching them, stocking with bulls etc. will shorten the lifespan of the slats. Examine the entire floor (but especially the centre slats) for sagging, cracking, rust staining and spalling of concrete, i.e. breaking of layers or pieces of concrete from the surface. It is very important that you do not enter the tank to examine the slats. If replacement salts are needed they can be acquired under the TAMs Grant at the rate of 40% or 60% depending on which scheme is applicable to the farmer.

Child Safety

Summer is a time where children love to play and be outdoors but we all need to be aware of the dangers on farms. We all know as children when we were told to keep away from somewhere and not to do something some of us would love to see why.  It is often believed that farm children understand farm risks, but most children who die in farm accidents are farm children.

The main responsibility for securing the safety and health of children and young people rests with adults. All family members and people working on farms are required by law to do everything reasonably practical to ensure the safety and health of children and young people on the farm. There was sadly 21 child fatal accidents farms from 2011-2020. The main causes of these were machinery/tractors.

Farms are not playgrounds and when children are out on the farm they must be closely supervised.  “Stay Safe on the Farm with Jessy” (PDF) is a nice little booklet for children which you can download or view at the link

Farmer Health

The farmer sometimes is the last one that they think of when it comes to health and well-being. There is enough work on farms to keep farmers busy 365 days of the year but farmers need to take time out for themselves and their families as well.

Farmers have particularly high mortality from circulatory diseases, cancers and injuries and poisonings. Coping with stress and minding your mental health is very important and sometimes is forgotten about. It is ok not to be ok and there is always a place to go and talk if you want. There is one thing for sure you are not alone and if you are experiencing any issue or problem there is someone else that has encountered it as well.

Hopefully we will have a good summer so stay safe and don’t forget the sun factor.

There is a wealth of information and advice on all aspects of this topic on the Teagasc website at  Farm Health & Safety | Last week was #FarmSafetyWeek (July 18th - 22nd) Check out Teagasc Daily for farm safety articles published during that week.