FarmSafe Making a Real Difference!

1st May 2014

With the silage making season and the accompanying mass movement of farm machinery just a few short weeks away, Rural Development Council (RDC) Chief Executive, Teresa Canavan has told Farming Life that the ongoing FarmSafe campaign is making a genuine and positive difference in terms of changing the mindset of farmers, where health and safety issues are concerned.

While the headline figure of 3,000 plus farm family members having already attended a FarmSafe event are encouraging in their own right, the RDC representative believes the results of a postal survey targeting almost 2,000 participants, who had already taken part in a FarmSafe workshop, tells the real story behind the success of the project.

Teresa Canavan was speaking on behalf of the Countryside Agri Rural Partnership, the organisation responsible for administering the FarmSafe initiative.

“The first point to be made is that we received an extremely high level of response to the survey, 602 in total, with the majority of these people confirming that they had made a pro-active commitment to improving the health and safety standards in their farms.  In fact, a total of 2,682 actions have been taken by the respondents in this regard,” she explained. 

Significantly, the survey confirms that three quarters of respondents are now ensuring that children are not allowed in farm yards while work is being undertake; 68% are now planning work in advance, 62% are now using safety equipment when working with slurry; 61% have replaced PTO guards while almost 49% now use safety equipment while working at heights.

“Of equal significance is the fact that almost three quarters of the respondents have confirmed that they have advised others about the safety features on their farms,” Teresa Canavan added.

“Moreover, a very high proportion of the respondents have also indicated their intention of further actions to improve the health and safety standards on their farms.  We are continuing to promote and deliver FarmSafe events throughout Northern Ireland ensuring that the important farm safety message reaches farm households.  If you are a farmer, member of a farm family or involved in a farming group and wish to attend a FarmSafe event please get in touch.  Events can be arranged locally and participation is free to the farming community.”

Meanwhile a leading farm safety inspector in the Republic of Ireland believes that farm safety inspections should be officially included in the cross compliance measures put in place to monitor producer eligibility for Single Farm Payment support. 

But, according to Pat Griffin from the Health and Safety Authority, this would be far from a negative scenario as he envisages those farmers attaining high health and safety standards being preferentially rewarded under a future CAP support system.”

He said “I know this type of approach will not go down well with the farm lobby groups.  But, in my opinion, there is now a need to make on-farm occupational safety an issue that can have a direct bearing on the amount of money in a farmer’s pocket.  The current system of farm safety inspections, which are essentially advisory in nature, will only get us so far.  We need to develop a much more proactive approach when it comes to preventing accidents and saving lives on Irish farms.”

Pat Griffin hopes to discuss these ideas with colleagues in Northern Ireland in the very near future.