3,000 farmers urged to take part in farm safety survey

Third farm death of the year reported at weekend


More than 3,000 farmers are being urged to take part in a farm safety survey which is being conducted by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

The survey gets under way as a farmer in his 50s died in a farm accident in Co Cavan on Friday.

Patrick Bradley, from Mountnugent, Co Cavan, had been working with bales and a skid loader early that day but the alarm was raised when he failed to return home that evening. A search was mounted and his body was discovered in the early hours of Saturday morning.

While the proportion of the workforce engaged in farming is about 6 per cent, farming accounts for almost half of work place deaths. There were 28 deaths in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector last year out of 48 work place deaths.

There have been two other farm fatalities this year – a large reduction when compared with this time last year, when 11 deaths had occurred. However, the HSA said there had been large reductions in previous years only to be followed by significant increases in deaths the next year.

The HSA project is being led by occupational psychologist and HSA inspector Patricia Murray.

The 3,000 farmers have been randomly selected and Ms Murray encouraged people to complete the questionnaire, if received. “It is important to stress that this survey is not about blame or identifying wrong,” she said.

“It is entirely confidential and there will be no follow-up contact. We believe that the information provided will prove very useful in supporting and informing the authority’s role in promoting the benefits of improved health and safety compliance and performance for farmers.”

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association also urges farmers to take part in the survey to generate a greater understanding of the issues. Its farm safety spokesman John Flynn said farming was an inherently risky occupation because of factors such as unpredictable livestock, heavy machinery and the ageing demographic.

“However, there is a lot that we can do in terms of prevention in order to reduce the risks involved. This survey is an opportunity for farmers to shape the approach to farm safety in the future and as such, I’m hoping it will be given serious consideration by all who are asked to participate.”

Ms Murray said research had previously been undertaken by Teagasc and her organisation on different aspects of farm safety, but this research was different as it was looking at aspects of social and psychological behaviour.