Make 2014 a SAFE year for Northern Ireland's farms

8th January 2014

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is calling on local farmers to make 2014 the safest year ever.

While there is evidence of more positive attitudes towards farm safety through ongoing discussions with local farmers and farming bodies, and through the widespread support for the ‘Stop and Think SAFE’ campaign, more work needs to be done to address a culture of risk-taking that still exists within some of the farming community.

Acknowledging the considerable work undertaken to improve safety, HSENI’s Chief Executive Keith Morrison is urging everyone involved in the farming industry to continue to play their part in making Northern Ireland’s farms safer places to work and live on. He said:

“Tragically, there were four confirmed farming fatalities during 2013 and while statistically this represents a welcome decrease from 12 deaths in both 2012 and 2011, these are four deaths too many, causing heartache and devastation for the immediate families and the wider farming community.

“It is clear more work needs to be done and while there is evidence of progress, there is no room for complacency. All of us involved in the farming industry need to increase our efforts so that for 2014, and beyond, safety will be the priority for Northern Ireland’s farmers.

“To drive this work forward, a follow up to the Farm Safety Partnership’s action plan will launch later this year to outline further key actions to reduce death and serious injury on our farms.

“In the meantime, programmes like HSENI’s farm safety visits will continue to play an important part in the drive to help farmers take effective steps to improve safety on their farms. I’d urge all farmers to take on board the important safety advice that is on offer.”

The current farm safety visits will focus on the four main causes of fatalities on Northern Ireland’s farms - Slurry, Animals, Falls (from height) and Equipment – SAFE.

At this time of year, when severe weather can mean urgent repairs to farm buildings and roofs, farmers need to pay particular attention to safety when working at heights so that they do not take unnecessary risks to their safety and that of others.

All repairs should be carefully planned and carried out with the use of properly constructed platforms rather than ladders. If a roof needs to be repaired, ask yourself if you can avoid going on it by carrying out the repairs safely from below from a safe working platform? Remember, roof lights won’t hold your weight and may have been painted over or may be concealed by snow or ice, so double-check their location before you start.

While the use of a ladder is only recommended as a last resort, if you intend using one then make sure it is in good condition and ensure it is tied and footed to prevent slipping.

Indeed, you should always check all equipment and machinery before starting a job, particularly if it has also been exposed to the severe conditions.

The Farm Safety Partnership and the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee are organising a farm safety event at Parliament Buildings on Tuesday 14 January. The event will include demonstrations around the ‘Stop and Think SAFE’ campaign, such as highlighting the dangers of unguarded PTO shafts.

To find out more about the ‘Stop and Think SAFE’ campaign, or general farming health and safety issues in Northern Ireland, please contact the HSENI helpline on 0800 0320 121 or visit: