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Teagasc Ballyhaise Agricultural Students lead the way in Farm Safety Awareness

The FETAC students from Teagasc Ballyhaise Agricultural College launched a Children’s Farm Safety Awareness Campaign last week, as part of the Community Project of their Leadership Module. This campaign will see almost 250 school children from eight local rural national schools participate in farm safety awareness. This will be the first farm safety campaign of its type to occur in Ireland.

Speaking about the farm safety campaign, their Teagasc Leadership Tutor, Ms Marie McGlynn, said; “this is an excellent learning opportunity for Ballyhaise Agricultural College Students to liaise with local rural primary schools in the promotion of farm safety amongst children while providing the students with an opportunity to learn and demonstrate their, planning, organisational, communication, facilitation and ultimately their leadership skills”.

FBD Insurance Ireland is sponsoring the transport costs for the participating schools. Teagasc Ballyhaise College Principal, Mr John Kelly commented on how grateful the college were to FBD - without whose involvement this campaign would not have been possible. “Their generous sponsorship yet again demonstrates FBD’s commitment to promoting farm safety”. The timing of this campaign is significant, as last week the Health and Safety Authority has officially recognised that children have a significant role to play in making farms safe to live and work on. Chief Executive with the Health and Safety Authority, Mr Martin O’Halloran said that, "17 children have died in farm accidents over the past ten years and we want to make that zero. Farms are dangerous places for children as they combine both home and workplace and, tragically, children still continue to get injured and die in farm accidents in this country. What can seem like a playground full of adventure for a child can bring devastating consequences for families. The lines can get blurred between work and safe play areas.”

Education Manager with the Health and Safety Authority, Joanne Harmon added that, "The tragedy of a child's death at the place where a family lives and earns their livelihood is an unimaginable horror that all must be vigilant to prevent. Children respond well to being educated about the risks around them”. In response to this advice, the Ballyhaise students will deliver a number of educational farm safety demonstrations to the visiting children over the next two months, highlighting the high risk areas on the farm to children, including moving tractors, machinery, quad bikes, slurry tanks, hay barns, animals and the storage of chemicals. The schools participating in the campaign are; Ballyhaise, Kill, St Marys Drung, Drung 2, Killoughter, Castletara, Bunnoe and Butlersbridge.

This safety campaign is targeted at children between the ages of 10 and 13; children at this young age are still very impressionable and lessons learned at this age should stay with them for life, potentially changing a pattern of unsafe practice at farm level. In addition children will be encouraged to act as ambassadors for farm safety and have the capability to significantly influence the actions of parents and grandparents.

Children from the eight participating schools will be invited to draw a poster with a slogan that represents farm safety following their visit to Ballyhaise Agricultural College highlighting the key safety messages learned. All poster entries will be displayed at the college in February for parents and grandparents to view. A prize will be awarded for the best entry.

Following the visits from the eight schools, parents and grandparents from the participating schools will be invited to attend a farm safety awareness talk in Teagasc Ballyhaise Agricultural College. The central theme of this talk will be appealing to parents and grandparents to think about the example they are showing to children and to always find a way to work safely. A change in attitude of some farmers now will help to ensure that we don’t create a new generation of risk takers.