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Agri Students Pave the Path for Change as “Champions for Safety”

Teagasc Kildalton Agricultural and Horticultural College in Kilkenny hosted the recent launch of the FBD, Teagasc and HSA “Champions for Safety” series of workshops being held throughout agricultural colleges nationwide. Sponsored by FBD, the idea of the initiative is to encourage farmers of the future to be “Champions for Safety” and to always put safety first.

Sadly too many serious and fatal accidents occur on Irish farms every year and the human and financial cost of these accidents is huge. The “Champions for Safety” series of seminars are being rolled out at agricultural and horticultural colleges through to January 2015. The key note speakers are Peter Gohery, a Galway farmer who lost a leg in a PTO farm accident, Ciaran Roche and local FBD Representatives, and Pat Griffin and John Kennedy of the HSA. The seminars have been facilitated by the colleges and co-ordinated by John McNamara, Teagasc.

Speaking at the launch, Ciaran Roche, FBD Risk Manager said: “I think that messages given by all the speakers were very powerful, especially the contribution of Peter Gohery. You could have heard a pin drop as Peter told his story of how he lost his leg in a PTO accident and explained the human and financial cost of his accident”.

FBD spoke about the importance of personal accident, employer’s liability and public liability insurance. They also highlighted that a change in unsafe farming cultures and behaviour is essential if we are to see a reduction in farm accidents.

The Health and Safety Authority outlined how the fatality rate on Irish farms compares poorly with other Irish industries and indeed other European countries. Presenting real cases, it was explained how fatal accidents easily occur and proposed measures for prevention. The HSA urged farmers to take more responsibility for their safety and the safety of others on the farm, particularly children.

Pat Griffin, HSA Senior Inspector said: “I believe that the positive engagement of young farmers in health and safety will help to foster a strong safety culture in the future. This engagement from the farming youth also has the potential to reduce death and injury on farms and improve the overall health and safety standards of all farmers.”

John McNamara, National Health and Safety Specialist with Teagasc, described the series of workshops as a “fantastic supplement” to the training which is already part of Teagasc’s health and safety programme and was delighted to report how well the events are being received by students.

Always Think Safety First