Ministers Urge Farming Community to Take the Next Step Towards a Safety First Culture

8th April 2014

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster, together with Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill, today, launched the new Farm Safety Action Plan - ‘Taking the next steps to safer farms’.

Farming now ranks as one of the most hazardous work sectors in Northern Ireland, this initiative, aims to put a halt to the number of industry related fatalities.

Developed by members of the Farm Safety Partnership, the Action Plan is a practical approach to addressing everyday problems within the agriculture sector. The plan highlights the importance of good health and safety practises; simple steps to manage the four key hazards to the industry – Slurry, Animals, Falls and Equipment (SAFE) and the introduction of potentially life-saving safety measures on all farms.

Speaking at the launch, Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said:

“Farming is a vital part of our economy, providing employment to almost 47,800 people across 24,500 farms, yet agricultural accidents remain the main cause of workplace fatalities in Northern Ireland. Every accident is one too many. Behind the statistics there are heartbreaking stories of the emotional and practical implications for those involved and their families.

“As the Farm Safety Partnership work to implement the targets of this new action plan, farmers too need to put in place effective measures to reduce risk and ensure that all farms are safe places for families to live, work and play.

“I’d like to commend everyone in the Partnership for their considerable efforts over the past 18 months. There has been a welcome increase in awareness about safety throughout the agricultural industry but we cannot be complacent. We must now take the next step to a future where our farming industry will be known, not just for its world class produce, but for its excellence in farm safety.”

Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill added:

“The sterling work of the Partnership has been a driver for changing the attitudes of those involved in farming and it is clear that farmers are taking action to make their farms safer.

“Every loss of life is a tragedy and can be avoided with simple steps and by stopping to ‘Think SAFE’. The Partnership’s new action plan will go a long way to influence future behaviour so that farmers, their families, and their employees are capable, motivated, and able to work safely to reduce accidents on farms.

“I reaffirm my Department’s commitment to this important issue and will support the Partnership in its efforts.”

Also speaking at the launch, HSENI Chairman George Lucas said:

“Tragically, farming has a poor safety record, with more fatalities across all age groups compared to other industries. However, it is encouraging that more and more farmers are recognising that accidents on farms are preventable and many farmers are putting in place effective measures to improve safety. All of us connected to farming should work in partnership so that over the coming years our farms operate within a culture of safety first.”