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Plastic surgeon warns farmers on gruesome nature of farm injuries

Speaking at the National Farm Health and Safety Conference in Athy, Co Kildare today (Wednesday 18th August), Dr. Anne Collins, a specialist plastic surgery registrar, presented a graphic account of the gruesome consequences of farm injuries and advised farmers to give farm health and safety the attention it deserves.

“In the case of traumatic injury involving farm machinery, plastic surgeons do the very best they can to restore severed limbs and body parts but our efforts very often have limitations in restoring the human body to its original state”, Dr. Collins stated.

Dr. Collins made her comments following a national study which revealed that the power shaft guard was missing in 80% of power shaft injuries and loose clothing and rushing were implicated in 40% of injuries. The study also indicated that survivability with power shaft injuries declines as farmers grow older with the average age of a fatal power shaft victim at 46 years compared to 28 for survivors.

Opening the conference, Mr. Dara Calleary T.D., Minister for Labour Affairs and Public Service Transformation, welcomed the presence and support of IFA President Mr. John Bryan, ICMSA President Mr. Jackie Cahill and Macra na Feirme President Mr. Michael Gowing. “Farm leaders have a key role to play in conveying the message to farmers that effective management of health and safety is crucial in running a successful farm. The only way forward is for farm organisations to work together in changing the culture so that health and safety is not seen as an optional extra but is top of the agenda for all farmers,” said the Minister.

Mr. Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, also welcomed farm leader support and urged all farm bodies to make a special effort to improve what is turning out to be a black year for health and safety on farms. “With 18 deaths on farms so far this year accounting for almost two thirds of all work related deaths, there is clearly a lot of work to be done”, he stated. “Farmers need to be alert at all times to health and safety issues but particular attention is required when working with tractors, machinery and other farm vehicles as these have been associated with the majority of farm deaths so far this year.”

Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc, outlined details of their national training programme on the Farm Safety Code of Practice. According to Professor Boyle, “These programmes have been well researched and designed with the needs of farmers in mind. They address all the common health and safety issues and offer practical solutions on how to minimise the dangers and reduce the potential for accidents. I urge all farmers to contact their local Teagasc office to book their place.”