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Minister Coveney to attend National Farm Health and Safety Conference in Roscommon

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Simon Coveney T.D. will open the National Health and Safety Conference to take place on Wednesday 22nd June at the Abbey Hotel, in Roscommon Town. Farm Leaders, John Bryan, IFA President and Jackie Cahill, ICMSA President has confirmed their participation at this event. Newly elected Macra na Feirme, President Alan Jagoe, while unavoidably absent, will be represented by Kieran McEvoy, Macra Agricultural Affairs Chairperson. The Farm Leaders will be joined at the event by Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority.

The attendance of the Farm Leaders signifies their real concern about increased levels of farm injuries and ill health. The event is being organised against a background of increased farm deaths as 8 have occurred so far this year, adding to 26 which occurred in 2010. These regrettable statistics make the agriculture sector stand out as one of the worst occupational groups with 30-50% of occupational deaths in recent years.

The National event is being organised jointly by Teagasc, the Health and Safety Authority and the Farm Safety Partnership which is representative of farmer and state organisations and advises the H.S.A on health and safety matters.

Oliver Burke, Teagasc Regional Manager, states that a large farmer audience is most welcome at this event, where new and important health and safety information of national significance will be released. The annual National Health and Safety Conference concept is now firmly established and following a decision to rotate the venue among the provinces Roscommon has been chosen as a county where a lot of positive health and safety promotional activity has taken place, he stated.

Mr Burke said that the National Health and Safety Conference will address three themes as follows:

Changing the Culture of Health and Safety in Farming

Patrick Griffin, Senior Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority who has responsibility for the agriculture sector will outline the National Programme in place to assist farmers nationally to take health and safety on board in their own best interests.

John McNamara, Teagasc Health and Safety Officer will then outline the important role training and advice plays in assisting farmers to practically manage farm health and safety and meet the legal requirements.

Health of Farmers

Ciaran Mullooly, Vice-District Governor of the Lions Clubs of Ireland and a member of the Roscommon Lions Club will outline the role of voluntary organisations and the vital role they can play in preventing rural suicides.

Doctor Breda Smyth, Health and Safety Executive (West) will give the finding of her recent MD study of relevance to farmers on mortality inequalities among occupational groups. Ms Kate Walshe a health promotion officer with HSE (West) will then outline the national significance of the successful Co Roscommon ‘Farmers have Hearts’ Heart Health programme. Dr Karyn Morrissey, will continue with the theme of health access by outlining her doctoral thesis research on the barriers and opportunities for assessing health care in a rural setting, conducted within the Teagasc Rural Development Programme.

Safety with Cattle

Following a big upsurge in livestock accidents which now cause 65% of farm injuries a new set of Livestock Safety Guidelines and an accompanying DVD have been prepared and will be launched at the event. Jim Dockery, Training Manager with FRS Training and Farm Safety Partnership livestock safety sub-committee chair will introduce the Guidelines and DVD with Mr Anthony Morahan, H.S.A.

Dr Bernadette Earley, animal scientist from Teagasc Grange will outline recent research related to livestock behaviour and safety conducted as part of an EU Leonardo da Vinci project and Dr Ross Evans will then outline the potential and importance of breeding for more placid cattle.

Open Forum

The Conference will be chaired by John Bryan while Jackie Cahill will chair an open forum session as the final session of the event. This session will allow conference participants to question speakers and raise points of concern on health and safety, for inclusion in future national programmes.

The Conference will run from 10.00 am to 1.30 pm, bookings should be made to Teagasc, Abbey Street, Roscommon Tel: 090 626166. Admission is free.