Three fatalities in farming during safety week

Farm Safety Week seeks to raise awareness of sector’s high incidence of accidents

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed: “Sadly we still grapple with the challenge of farm accidents and fatalities.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Though it was billed as an opportunity to highlight farming as the most dangerous job in Ireland, few could have anticipated that there would be three tragic fatal farm accidents during Farm Safety Week 2018.

The annual Farm Safety Week took place from Sunday, July 16th, to Friday, July 20th. Its aim was to demonstrate good practices and “continue to raise awareness of farming having one of the poorest safety records of any occupation in the UK and Ireland”.

Farmers have had an exceedingly difficult year with storms, record snowfalls, fears of fodder shortages and drought all conspiring to make what is already a challenging job even more stressful.

According to the Health and Safety Authority(HSA), there were 24 work deaths in agriculture in 2017, marking the eighth year in a row that the sector recorded the highest number of work-related fatalities.


Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed welcomed Farm Safety Week 2018 with an acknowledgment that, "sadly we still grapple with the challenge of farm accidents and fatalities".

“This week allows us to bring the conversation to the top of the agenda.”

Tending cattle

As this year’s Farm Safety Week campaign got under way, there was news of yet another farm fatality, the 12th to have occurred in Ireland this year and the first during the annual safety campaign.

Patricia Newell (54) was killed while tending to cattle at her farm at Curracuggeen, Headford, Co Galway. She was pronounced dead at the scene and an investigation was launched by the HSA. Ms Newell was laid to rest following her funeral Mass at Donaghpatrick Cemetery in Headford on Friday morning.

A second fatal farm accident claimed the life of a man in his 90s in Co Kerry on the morning of Thursday, July 19th. Emergency services attended the scene at Bunaghara, Listowel, where the man had died following an accident with a tractor and machinery.

As the Irish Farmers’ Association marked the end of Farm Safety Week by issuing information on livestock-handling safety and holding a farm safety walk in Co Kilkenny last Friday, news broke of a third fatal farm accident.

Father of five Kieran Byrne (58) had been rushed to hospital after suffering crush injuries while tending to livestock near Kinnitty in Co Offaly on Wednesday, July 18th. He was taken to the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, and then transferred to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin where he died on Thursday night. Mr Byrne was laid to rest in Kinnitty.