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Over 4,500 Farm Accidents occur annually - Teagasc survey

New data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) has revealed that that there were 4,523 accidents on Irish farms. The survey was conducted in 2021 and relates to year 2020. Over 88% of these farm accidents involved the farm operator, with a further 11% relating to family members. Farm workers accounted for the remaining 1% of farm workplace accidents.

Over 4,500 Farm Accidents occur annually - Teagasc survey

Close to half (46%) of farm workplace injuries required hospitalisation, with a further 18% needing GP medical treatment and 16%receiving first aid.  One-fifth of those injured did not require medical or first aid treatment.

In almost half of cases (47%) the injured persons required more than 3 day absence from farm work, the threshold for legal accident reporting.  Over twenty percent were out of work for between 4 and 10 days, with 6% unable to work for 11 to 60 days.   Close to one-fifth (19%) of those involved in farm accidents lost 61 or more days of work.  Correspondingly, 19% did not lose work time.  

Sheep farms accounted for 37% of reported workplace accidents, followed by dairy farms (25%), cattle-non-suckling (14%) and both cattle-suckling and tillage (12%).     The high level of accidents among sheep farmers requires further investigation related to age of victims and level seriousness of the accidents. 

Over half of farm accidents involved livestock (52%), with a further one-third relating to trips and falls (32%).  Of the remainder, 13% involved farm vehicles and machinery with a further 3% of accidents specifically associated with farm buildings.

The majority of farm accidents occurred in farmyards (58%), 29% in farm buildings, 12% in fields and 1% on farm roads.

Teagasc Senior Health and Safety Specialist Advisor, Dr John McNamara, stated that the methodology for the 2021 survey differed somewhat from previous surveys with farmers asked if they had a farm accident in the previous year.   Previous surveys asked if an accident had occurred during the previous 5-year period.

Teagasc Senior Research Officer, Dr Emma Dillon is involved in the development of social sustainability indicators through the National Farm Survey, one aspect of which is monitoring health and safety on Irish farms on a regular basis.  Teagasc plans to conduct further analysis of this farm accident data set in conjunction with the core NFS dataset, which contains a broad range of information relating to the farm and farm household.  This report will be published later in 2022.