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Focus on Farmer Health and Safety at Teagasc Events

Three major Teagasc Open Days for farmers will be used to put a major focus on farmer health and safety over the next month. The events are ‘Sheep2015’ at Teagasc Athenry, Co. Galway (Saturday, 20th June), Crops and Spraying at Teagasc Oak Park, Carlow (Wednesday 24th June) and ‘Teagasc Moorepark’ 15,’ a major event for dairy farmers at Fermoy, Co Cork (Wednesday 1st July).

In 2014, 30 people died in farm work related activity, which made-up 54% of all workplace deaths. In the first five months of this year (to 1 June 2015), 5 individuals have died in farm accidents, compared to 12 for the corresponding period in 2014. An estimated 2,500 non-fatal accidents causing serious injury occur on farms annually.

Commenting on the recent trends, Teagasc Health and Safety Officer, John McNamara said: “One accident is one to many. Thousands of farmers will be attending these three open days and there is an opportunity for them to engage with farm safety specialists to reassess the safety precautions on their own farms. Farmer behaviour in relation to safety is the crucial determinant of accident occurrence.” He added; “maintenance of high safety vigilance particularly during the busy summer months is essential to minimise accident levels”.

The safety exhibits at Teagasc events will include demonstrations related to prevention of all the major causes of farm accidents. These include: childhood and elder farmer safety; tractor and machinery safety; falling loads; drowning; and slurry gassing. A range of organisations including the Health and Safety Authority, the Road Safety Authority and ESB Networks will also be exhibiting at these events.

The new farm safety training requirements for the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme 2 (TAMS 2), Young Farmers’ Capital Scheme will be highlighted to farmers at these three major open days.

The safety focus at each event will be concentrating on the farm enterprise being covered on the day. At the SHEEP 2015, suitable facilities to prevent physical injuries when working with sheep will be emphasised. At the Crops and Spraying event the focus will be on meeting the requirements of pesticide regulations related to the EU Sustainable Use Directive. The Dairying event will highlight safety, and work organisation, related to herd expansion.

Farmers health will also be a major topic at all the Teagasc events as a number of recent reports have shown that farmers have poorer health than other occupational groups. The need for farmers to obtain a regular health check and have associated dialogue with a health professional will be emphasised. The Irish Heart Foundation will be on hand to provide free blood pressure checks. Further information on all the Teagasc Events is available at www.teagasc.ie/events/ or from any Teagasc office. Entry to all the events is free of charge.