Fatality rate for fishermen and farmers a scandal, says Coveney


FARMERS AND fishermen account for more than half of work-related fatalities and this was “an absolute scandal”, Minister for Agriculture and the Marine Simon Coveney told the Dáil.

He said “the dairy sector consistently has the highest number of farm fatalities out of all the farming enterprises”.

Farming accounts for 6 per cent of the workforce, and the highest number of fatalities involve accidents with tractors and other farm machinery. “Livestock and in particular bulls come next, followed by falls and drowning accidents,” he said. “We need to change what is in farmers’ heads and in the heads of their wives and families. The workplace is their home and often that results in lax and inappropriate attitudes to safety for themselves, their children and their families.”

There had been huge progress in getting people to wear lifejackets in the leisure marine sector, “but little or no progress in getting fishermen to wear lifejackets”. He was unsure whether a lifejacket campaign in the summer made a difference as “for some reason fishermen seem to think they will never fall in the water”.

Noel Harrington (FG, Cork South West) was concerned about the department’s reluctance to use personal beacons, which sends a signal to the emergency services if someone falls into the water, instead of emergency position indicating radio beacons (Epirb).

He said when the Rambler 100 yacht capsized in the Fastnet race, the Epirb did not go off because the vessel had not sunk. “The personal beacons activated the emergency services.”