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Dispelling the myths around Risk Assessment


The overall theme of Farm Safety Week 2021 is 'Rethink Risk' with the aim being to reduce the number of accidents on farms and bring about a change in culture that makes unsafe practices socially unacceptable. Teagasc Health & Safety Specialist, Francis Bligh advises below

by Dr. John McNamara & Francis Bligh, Teagasc Health & Safety Specialists

Risk Assessment for farmers in Ireland

In Ireland, a very practical approach to Risk Assessment in Farming has taken place with the development of the Risk Assessment document. The Risk Assessment document can be found on the HSA website here

It is supported by a statutory Code of Practice, which provides further relevant information. The code of practice documents can be found on the HSA website here

Additionally, an on-line version of the Risk Assessment can be assessed on the HSA web site at the following link www.farmsafely.com. This on-line tool is serviced by an independent server and it is password protected so the information is only available to you the farmer.

Features of Risk Assessment Document

The Risk Assessment Document provides a template on how it should be completed at the front of the document. It also has pages for farm details and Emergency contact numbers at the front of the document.

The document has Hazard Control pages for all the major Hazards that can be found on a farm.  Key injury data is shown in Pie Charts and pictures focus on hazards and their controls.  Hazard Control sheets have been developed based on the risks in farming. These ask farmers key questions related to hazards while the matrix format allows each farmer to adopt the document for their farm.

Taking Safety Action

The purpose of conducting a Risk Assessment is to motivate and prioritise taking health and safety actions. In turn, this will make farms safer and heathier workplaces. A Farm Safety Action List is provided in the end of the document where farmers can list actions needed and record when they have been completed.   Research has shown that farmers where health and safety action has been completed have the best standards.   Due to the dynamic nature of farms, informal risk assessment and action taking needs to continue on a continuing basis.

Teagasc provides Half- Day Training on completion of the Risk Assessment Document. Completion of such a course is a requirement for drawdown of DAFM TAMS11 grant aid.  Further information is available by contacting your local Teagasc office.

Practical Approach

The Irish approach to Risk Assessment is practical and is well liked by farmers.  The Risk Assessment format approach adopted is the Irish state’s way of assisting farmers to complete a thorough and comprehensive risk assessment.  The Risk Assessment does not have to be sent to anyone, and Inspector of the H.S.A. may examine the document on a farm inspection for completeness and its implementation.   Completion of the Risk Assessment Document is also a requirement for Bord Bia Food Assurance Schemes.

In the short clip below, hear from Teagasc Health & Safety Specialist, Francis Bligh about what you can expect to see during Farm Safety Week