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Farm Safety Week 2020

Ireland and the UK have joined forces for Farm Safety Week 2020, taking place from July 20th to 24th

It's Time to Take Safety Seriously

Accidents on farms are a continuing cause of concern. For the situation to improve the practical engagement of farmers’ is essential for progress. 

Read:- Manage Farm Safety - Use Revised Risk Assessment

View more information on IFA website




Farming Safely with Machinery

Nearly half of farm accidents are caused by tractors, farm vehicles and machinery. Inexperienced operators, lack of concentration, human error, time pressure and unguarded parts like PTO shaft are the main causes of accidents. In this short clip, hear top tips from Teagasc Machinery Specialist, Fra

It is important that machinery used is suitable for the task, properly maintained with all dangerous parts covered. All machinery should be serviced and maintained on a regular basis. 

Tractor and ploughTractors and machinery should be stable and controls in good working order. It is important to remember that machinery cannot be operated safely if operators have not sufficient information and trained. 

Tractor Situation Awareness Checksheet (PDF)
Tractor Driver Situation Awareness Checksheet - User Guide(PDF)

Many serious farm accidents occur because guards which must be provided by law are damaged or taken off. 

PTO shafts are involved in many accidents often with machinery that is stationary e.g. slurry agitation and milling meal.Farm Safety PTO shaft

When buying machinery make sure you:

  • Deal with a reputable dealer. 
  • Tractors and self propelled machinery have a suitable cab. 
  • The tractor or machine should be easy to maintain long term. 
  • The operator’s manual should always be provided. It is as important for second hand machinery as new.

When you buy or hire machinery the law states the supplier must provide all necessary guards.

Machinery should be inspected regularly for defects which should be rectified immediately. Always prop machinery when working under hydraulics.

In the off season machinery should be propped or lowered to the ground when not in use.


  • Keep in mind there is no roll bar. Person on ATV
  • The operator must use his/her body weight to ensure safe operation.

Ensure there is:

  • Training 
  • Protective gear – helmet, goggles & gloves.




Working at Height

17% of all fatal accidents on farms are due to falls and collapses.

  • Think about the job and plan to do it safely
  • Think about the competence of people doing the job.
  • Think, plan and organise safety before working on fragile or unstable roofs
  • Think and plan to use  appropriate safety equipment.
  • Think about use of a mobile elevated work platform.
  • Think and plan to inspect equipment regularly.
  • Think about stacking bales if you do not have machinery to remove them.
  • Think about the risk of falling objects



Staying Safe while Working at Height

17% of farm fatalities are caused by falls from heights and accidents involving from falling or being struck by falling objects such as gates or bales. In this short clip, Teagasc advisor Glen Corbett outlines top tips for staying safe on farm while working at heigh


Child Safety

The main responsibility for securing the safety and health of children and young people rests with adults. All family members and people working on farms are required by law to do everything reasonably practical to ensure the safety and health of children and young people on the farm. It is often believed that farm children understand farm risks, but most children who die in farm accidents are farm children.

The Key Risk Areas to child safety areChild in tractor with seat belt

  • No safe play area. This is strongly recommended by the Health & Safety Authority for children under 5 years of age. 
  • Lack of supervision. Children require supervision at all times. Always get 2 or 3 days notice when children are bringing home friends from school so as proper supervision is in place.
  • Children driving or operating farm machinery. Children under 16 years of age should not operate self propelled machinery, power driven machinery with cutting, splitting or crushing mechanisms. Using chemicals should also be considered off limits. Keys should be removed from vehicles and controls left in neutral. Lower any loaders to the ground and apply the hand break.
  • Risks posed by animals. Animals need not be dangerous to pose a danger to children; sheer size can cause serious injury from crushing. Veterinary medicine not securely stored may also cause death. Children should be trained to always wash their hand after being with animals or pets.
  • Stacks of Bales. Children should be discouraged from using bales of any description for playing. It is very easy to fall from stacked bales resulting in serious injury or fall between them leading to suffocation. Make sure there is no evidence of children burrowing under stacked bales. Keep matches in a safe place.
  • Chemicals. Children under 16 should never handle chemicals. Always keep them in their correct containers and securely stored.
  • Drowning – water and slurry. Slurry pits and lagoons should be safely secured. Children should never be in the vicinity during slurry agitation or spreading. Sheep dips and water tanks should be kept covered when not in use.
  • Ladders. Store ladders flat on the ground or on wall brackets to prevent children climbing.
  • Carrying passengers on farm machinery. Be very aware that children can interfere with controls, if left alone in a tractor cab. Many children have been killed falling from the door or rear window of tractors. There is also the possibility of been distracted when doing intricate jobs which is not taken into consideration.
  • Remember farms are not playgrounds. Children will often get into apparently inaccessible places. Make sure you exclude them from potentially dangerous areas. They should not be allowed in farm yards on busy days.

Contractors should always be made aware of the presence of children.

 Useful Resources for Children 

Farm safety videos for children


                                    Stay Safe on the Farm with Jessy  (pdf) 

Older Farmers

Farm Safety for Older Farmers

Sadly in 2019 twelve farmers over 65 years lost their lives due to farm accidents. This represents 66% of the total number of fatalities. Getting older impacts on a person’s ability to undertake tasks in the same way as when they were younger. Farm safety specialists Francis Bligh and John Mc Namara have some relevant advice

Tractors, machinery, livestock or falls from height were the main causes of farm accidents in older farmers. Getting older can affect a person’s mobility, eyesight balance and reaction time. It is important that these changes are recognised and farmers take account of their changing abilities.

Some important safety tips

  • Assess dangers before carrying out hazardous work, particularly involving tractors, machinery, livestock or working at heights.
  • Properly maintained machinery will significantly reduce the risk.
  • Always ask the question before each job.
    • Can I carry out this job safely.
    • Do I need better facilities
    • Do I need to get help for specific jobs.
    • Do I need to change my farming system (less calving cows to more drystock cattle) to help reduce the physical demands associated with calving cows.
  • Use your phone to keep in touch. Always carry a mobile phone when farming and inform someone about where you are going and when you expect to be back.


  • Older, Wiser, Safer

    In recent years someone has died every two weeks in an accident on an Irish farm. Tragically, over half of these deaths involve a farmer over 60 years of age. In this video, farming journalist and Ear to the Ground presenter Darragh McCullough talks about how farming has changed in the last 50 years

  • Older, Wiser, Safer - Health

    Darragh McCullough talks to farmer Gerry Maguire about how changes in your health can affect your work on the farm.

  • Older, Wiser, Safer - tractors and machinery

    Farmer Alan Gillis talks to Darragh McCullough about how to protect yourself from the dangers of working with tractors and machinery.

  • Older, Wiser, Safer: - Livestock

    Farmer Gerry Maguire talks to Darragh McCullough about the dangers of working with livestock and offers some simple steps to help make livestock work safer.

  • Older, Wiser, Safer: - Falls from Height and Slurry

    Darragh McCullough talks to farmer Alan Gillis about some of the steps you can take to help prevent a fall from height or a slurry gas or drowning accident.

  • Older, Wiser, Safer: Conclusion

    Ear to the Ground presenter Darragh McCullough talks to farmers Gerry Maguire and Alan Gillis about the positive impact older farmers can have on changing mindsets around farm safety.



About a quarter of non fatal accidents on farms are animal related. Greatest risk accrues when animals are being moved, separated or released. 

Calttle Rails
Cattle in a crushMost common injuries are: 


Animals with newborn also pose a great risk. One should never turn ones back on such animals. Good handling facilities are extremely important. Pens, fencing, crushes and skulling gates should be of a standard to facilitate herd size.

Zoonotic diseases

These are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. To help reduce infection:

  • Keep stock healthy – may include vaccination
  • Use PPE where necessary
  • Encourage good personal hygiene
  • Keep cuts and abrasions covered
  • Control rats and vermin to avoid spreading disease

Bull housing

Safety measures when handling bulls:

  • Bulls should be ringed at 10 months of age
  • Attach chain when bulls are outdoors.
  • A pen to prevent direct contact with bulls when feeding and bedding will prevent many accidents
  • Bulls should be housed where they can be restrained and see the herd
  • Signs warning of the presence of bulls should be visible in public places.

All visible defects in livestock facilities should be identified and maintenance carried out. It is a good idea to use a vehicle when herding animals particularly for older farmers. Regardless of stage of growth aggressive animals should be culled. Stock proof fencing should be maintained, particularly road side fencing.

Move animals with the minimum of fuss and noise.

More information on farming safely with livestock available here on Health and Safety website 



Safe Handling of Livestock

18% of fatalities on farms over the last 10 years have been associated with livestock. Francis Bligh, Health and Safety Specialist with Teagasc discusses staying safe around livestock on your farm

Survivor story

Brendan McLaughlin was dosing a calf when a cow that had always been quiet, turned on him unexpectedly. He describes the dramatic moment where he didn't know if he would survive. His advice is to always use a physical barrier like a crush gate to separate yourself from an animal

Older Farmers


  View other videos in the series - Older, Wiser Safer