GAA encouraged to appoint farm safety officer

Seanad report calls for players to help campaign to reduce number of fatalities

Fianna Fáil Senator Denis O’Donovan: “We have the worst record per 100,000 farmers. In the UK they have about 60 per cent of our deaths and throughout Europe it’s only about 50 per cent.” File photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil Senator Denis O’Donovan: “We have the worst record per 100,000 farmers. In the UK they have about 60 per cent of our deaths and throughout Europe it’s only about 50 per cent.” File photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

 

The GAA should appoint a national farm safety officer in a bid to reduce the incidence of farm accidents, a report from the Seanad public consultation committee has said.

The committee held a public hearing on farm safety in March and the report, authored by Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway, includes a series of recommendations on reducing the number of fatalities.

The report states that the Department of Agriculture could work with the GAA to bring about the appointment of a farm safety officer. Mr Conway said the GAA, along with the IFA, was “in every corner of rural Ireland . . . If they could be persuaded to appoint a farm safety officer within their head office structure they could roll out programmes on a more established basis ”.

Local level

The report also says it had been recommended that “champions, such as leading GAA figures and other community champions, should be used to promote farm safety”. This would be especially effective among younger GAA members. Mr Conway said the committee would forward the report to the GAA’s general secretary Páraic Duffy.

The committee chairman, Fianna Fáil Senator Denis O’Donovan, said the committee was not trying to lay the blame for farm accidents on any particular sector and everyone should work together to reduce the risk.

“We have the worst record per 100,000 farmers. In the UK they have about 60 per cent of our deaths and throughout Europe it’s only about 50 per cent. So we must all redouble our efforts to save some lives and reverse the trend.”

He said it became clear during the public hearing that farmers must be central in bringing about the necessary changes.

“Farmers need to be assisted and encouraged to do this through education and awareness building,” he said.

The report highlights the need for more education on farm safety at both primary and secondary school level and says fun interactive tools should be used to teach children about the issue.

It calls for an awareness campaign for tractor safety and notes the “considerable practical, administrative and legal difficulties” for families bereaved by farm accidents.

Mr O’Donovan said Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney had agreed to discuss the report in the Seanad before the summer recess.