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Minister Coveney Launches Farmer Health and Safety Training Initiative

A national programme of Half-Day Health and Safety Training courses, organised by Teagasc and the Health and Safety Authority, was launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today, Wednesday, 21 September. The courses assist farmers to complete a comprehensive farm health and safety risk assessment as required under safety, health and welfare at work legislation.

Speaking at the Farm Safety Village at the National Ploughing Championships in Athy, today, Minister Coveney said:” I am very concerned that 17 persons have lost their lives on Irish farms so far this year. This is an unacceptably high number of the workplace fatalities. In addition an estimated 1,800 farmers suffer serious injury on farms each year.”

Encouraging farmers to be more vigilant about safety on their farms, Minister Coveney said: “Developing a culture where farm health and safety is effectively managed is the aim of the risk assessment approach built into workplace health and safety legislation. The availability of short half-day training courses for farmers provides an important facility for farmers to gain a clear understanding of the legal requirements at a practical level.”

Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority said: ”The Farm Health and Safety Risk Assessment document has been designed to clearly focus on controls which would prevent the vast majority of fatal and serious accidents and ill health arising among farmers. Regrettably, similar types of accidents keep recurring every year on farms in Ireland.“

Dr Tom Kelly, Director of Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc said: “An evaluation by Teagasc and HSA indicated a positive benefit from training. Those farmers who completed a short training course went on to identify 70% more safety controls needed, than farmers who had completed the Risk Assessment without receiving training. The training course provides greater understanding of the critical issues and importantly the ‘motivation’ to implement controls.”

Dr Kelly also said: ”Teagasc was particularly anxious that farmers who had not, as yet, completed the Farm Safety Risk Assessment would book into a course over the coming months. While the Farm Safety Risk Assessment document can also be completed online using the web address www.farmsafely.com, which is a completely independent and confidential web site, there were clear benefits in attending the half-day training even where this web based system was being used.“

Mr O’Halloran appealed to farmers to avail of the Training and Advisory services of Teagasc and Agricultural Consultants to improve health and safety on farms. He also requested farmers who had previously completed the Farm Safety Risk Assessment to review their document and consider if further controls were needed.