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Farm Safety may not cost the earth but not doing it may cost your life

Farm Safety may not cost the earth but not doing it may cost your life

When we think of the wide range of tasks a farmer does each day it's easy to see that managing a farm and doing it safely is a challenge. Farmers must develop many skills to carry out these jobs competently. John McNamara & Francis Bligh, Teagasc Health & Safety Specialists have low cost suggestions

For most farmers the profits generated are very well earned and decisions on where to reinvest can be difficult.

From a safety point of view small measures can make a big difference and these small measures are not always expensive.

Some low cost safety measures are discussed here

Sadly 21 children lost their lives as a result of a farm accidents in past 10 years. The major causes of childhood deaths on farms are tractors and machinery (accounting for 81%), falls or collapses (9%) and drowning (5%). 

Take time to explain to children the dangers on the farm

Providing a safe and secure play area for young children and making sure that they are supervised when they are in or around farmyards and livestock will help protect them from danger. Take time to explain to children the dangers on the farm. 

Claire Mooney, Teagasc Advisor has advice on keeping children safe on the farm in this video

Tractors and machinery

Tractors and machinery accounted for over 50% of the deaths on farms over the past 10 years. Allocate time to checking and maintaining tractors and machinery. Something as simple as a faulty handbrake can have devastating consequences. Visibility from the tractor seat is a major contributing factor to injuries and fatalities associated with tractors and farm vehicles. Allocate time for cleaning the windows and mirrors regularly to help improve visibility.

To learn more about Tractor Safety watch the video below

On the Road

Farmers and farming contractors must remember that roads are now much busier with pedestrians and cyclists because of Covid19 restrictions. Drivers of agricultural machines should reduce speed and understand that around every corner there may be a person out for a walk, jog or a cycle. Farmers should communicate this message to drivers at any opportunity.


Livestock can be unpredictable. Health and Safety Authority data shows livestock accounted for almost 20% of all fatalities in the past 10 years. Appropriate facilities are required but trying to upgrade or change facilities to make them safer can feel like a big and expensive task.

  • Developing a plan to do some smaller chunks of the work regularly or each year can help to make the changes happen over time.
  • High risk items like rusty pillars or crush sections should be replaced first.
  • If cows are calving on the farm, a calving gate is a must-have and must-use piece of equipment.
  • Regular fencing maintenance will help slow down the deterioration of fences. Replacing straining posts and broken stakes regularly will help secure the fence and is a very low cost solution for peace of mind.
  • Gates can be expensive but keeping them hanging and correctly latched can prolong their lifespan and this will also help to reduce manual handling injuries.

Grant-aid. The DAFM have grant aid available under the TAMS II scheme to help reduce the cost of equipment. For more information contact your Teagasc adviser. The scheme is due to close in early November. To learn more read  TAMS II Grant Aid still Open for Applications 

Consider ways of making your farming system more streamlined because this can help make the farm safer as you will have more time to plan and carry out tasks safely. An example of this is removing the bull or stopping AI on a pre-planned date. This will help reduce the number of cattle of different ages on the farm. It will reduce the time spent repeating management tasks like watching cows calving, tagging calves, dehorning calves and dosing different batches of animals. To learn more see Breeding Management

Health and wellbeing

A major Irish study as part of the Farmers Have Hearts - Cardiovascular Health Programme found that 74% of male farmers have four, or more, risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This means they are three times more likely to have an acute cardiac event (stroke or heart attack) compared to those with fewer risk factors. Farming is physically demanding job but with mechanisation we get less exercise than previous generations. With this in mind it is important to consciously mabage your diet, walk a little more often and allocate time for structured exercise. To learn more please see Farmers Have Hearts: Cardiovascular Health Programme

With all the pressures of farming life can feel stressful. It is important to link with other farmers as much as possible, make regular phone calls, stop and chat when you can while keeping social distancing in mind. Teagasc advisers are available to help you work through issues that might be putting you under pressure on the farm, and talk to your GP.

For more information see Positive Mental Health in Farming (PDF) 

Farm Safety Risk Assessment document

Identification of hazards is a key component of managing a safe farm. To help in this process a free Farm Safety Code of Practice risk assessment document is available. It is a legal requirement to have an up-to-date Farm Safety Code of Practice risk assessment document for your farm. The original Code was first produced by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) in 2006 following the passing into law of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (SHWW), 2005. The current version has a green cover to distinguish it from the previous version and is available from the H.S.A and Teagasc.

The Farm Safety Code of Practice Risk Assessment Document is designed to help farmers meet their duties under the SHWW Act 2005 in a straight forward and practical way.  It focuses in on the most common hazards and provides workable solutions that can be put in place with minimal to zero cost.

The Risk Assessment document can also be completed online by logging onto https://farmsafely.com/farmers/00_login.htm


Knowledge of hazards on farms and options that farmers use to help eliminate or manage these hazards is very important. There are approved training courses available at low cost to help farmers learn the skills to identify hazards. Training helps to identify ways to manage safety on the farm and it provides an opportunity to hear the opinions of other farmers. Teagasc provides ½ day training on the farm safety code of practice risk assessment document. To learn more about the course contact any of our Teagasc offices using this link Teagasc Advisory Regions here or see Education and Training

Prepared By: Dr John McNamara/ Mr Francis Bligh, Teagasc, Health and Safety Specialists.

For further information check out the Farm Safety Week Section on the Teagasc Website.

All this week on Teagasc Daily we will be following the themes of Farm Safety Week on a Daily basis so be sure to check in with Teagasc Daily each day for more