Spotlight on farm safety

A targeted campaign of farm safety visits as part of a series of initiatives designed to address the increase in farm fatalities currently affecting the industry will start in November.

Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster announced the scheme during a visit to the Farm Family ‘Health and Safety Roadshow’ in Hillsborough today.

Since April 2007, 41 people in Northern Ireland have been killed as a direct result of agricultural activities. Many more have been seriously injured or made ill by work.

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Supported by the Ulster Farmers’ Union and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, this HSENI initiative will see at least 1000 targeted farm visits take place by March 2013.

Arlene Foster said: “HSENI teams will be focusing their efforts on reminding farmers to stop and think safe before starting any job on the farm. They will also be advising farmers on how to work safely around the four key dangers of Slurry, Animals, Falls and Equipment (i.e. SAFE).

“The key to improving health and safety across the industry lies in creating a culture in which farmers routinely assess the risks, take a few moments to think about what they are going to do and make preparations to do the whole job safely. Health and safety on farms doesn’t just happen - it needs to be managed.”

Malcolm Downey, who heads up the Farm Safety Team at HSENI, said: “I believe that farm safety visits along with one-to-one advice are vital tools in helping to limit the devastation caused by accidents. With the support of our Farm Safety Partnership colleagues at the Ulster Farmers’ Union, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, NFU Mutual and the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, I want every farmer in Northern Ireland to talk openly to our teams and take on board our advice and guidance.

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“It is vital that those working in the farming sector familiarise themselves with the guidance and put it into practice.

“This increase in farm visits will help to drive those messages home. I would appeal to everyone, including family and friends to help get the safety message to farmers and farm workers to ensure that they are aware of the dangers involved.”

UFU President Harry Sinclair said; “The advisory farm safety visits from the Health and Safety Executive are an ideal opportunity for farm businesses to scrutinise the safety of their farm. The HSENI team will visit at least 1000 farms in an attempt to highlight any dangers and provide practical assistance to help improve safety around the farm. The UFU would like to re-iterate the need to make farm safety a priority and encourage farmers who receive a visit to actively and positively engage with HSENI with the aim of reducing, and hopefully bringing to a halt work related deaths on our farms.

The Farm Safety Partnership intends to publish its first action plan in November covering the periods October 2012 – March 2014. The action plan is intended to both reflect the current and ongoing efforts of all partners as well as identifying new areas for action over the coming months.

For further information on farming health and safety issues in Northern Ireland please contact the HSENI helpline on 0800 0320 121 or visit Farmsafe.