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West Offaly Dairy Discussion Group wins European Health and Safety Award

The West Offaly Dairy Discussion Group, facilitated by Teagasc adviser Jim Moyles, has received the top award at the European Occupational Safety and Health ‘Good Practice Awards’. The award recognises outstanding new approaches to implementing effective safety and health management among Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) across Europe.

The award was presented by Commissioner László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, at a European Conference addressing safety and health challenges faced by SME’s, held in Dublin on Monday 29th April.
The Award was accepted on behalf of the Group by Brendan McGarry who was chairperson of the group in 2012. Teagasc were represented at the Awards ceremony by Jim Moyles, adviser to the group.

Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc Director in congratulating members of the West Offaly Group on their outstanding Award, stated that discussion groups are one of the outstanding developments in technology and practice transfer in Irish Agriculture. He stated that they also play an invaluable social role for discussion group members.

The West Offaly Discussion Group used the on-line Farm Safety and Health Risk Assessment tool (www.farmsafely.com) in association with their discussion group meetings to enhance safety and health management of their farms. The group spent an extra 30 minutes at each meeting of the group considering safety and three mentors were appointed from within the group to support adoption of safety measures on farms.

The on-line Risk Assessment tool used by the West Offaly Discussion Group is based on the Farm Safety Code of Practice developed as part of the Farm Safety Prevention Initiative operated by Teagasc and the Health and Safety Authority, in association with the Farm Safety Partnership.

Teagasc operates a network of over 800 discussion groups, involving over 13,000 farmers through the country. Discussion groups have 15 to 20 members and meet on a monthly basis on the farm of one of the group members to discuss farm management issues of relevance to members. Teagasc and independent research has consistently shown that discussion group members have higher levels of practice adoption.

Last December, the West Offaly Dairy Discussion Group’s project entitled ‘Operation Lifesaver’, also won the Dairy Discussion Group Innovation Competition, which was organised by Teagasc, ACCBank, ICBF and the Irish Farmers Journal.