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Stressed-out farmers making the "simplest" of mistakes

30 people died on Irish farms last year — the worst figure in a quarter of a century.

Image: Shutterstock

AN INCREASE IN activity on Irish farms in recent years is one of the main factors contributing to the surge in farm fatalities, IFA President Eddie Downey said yesterday, as he insisted the sector had made “huge strides” in tackling the issue.

In every area, Irish farms are “better cleaner and tidier than they were” Downey told reporters at his organisation’s AGM in Bluebell, west Dublin.

“The problem is they’re busier. And there’s a stress level there we need to tackle,” he added.

Lack of profitability is forcing people to do more work, [and] spend more hours on what they’re doing to try and get enough of an income to support a family.

“That’s been a particular problem in the last couple of years, because you’ve seen the drop in the rural development payments.”

“We’re now seeing a start to CAP reform. Those payments are going to increase, and for the next number of years we’ll see increases there.”

Farmers are taking the issue of farm safety “very seriously” he said, noting a recent increase in uptake of farm safety grants.

He urged farm workers to ”think defensively” when leaving the house for work in the morning, and to remember that they are spending their day in a workplace that could be dangerous.

Thirty people died on the country’s farms last year, including three children under the age of 16 and nine people over 65 — the worst figure in a quarter of a century.

The IFA has launched a campaign on the issue with information and other resources. Merchants are also coming on board with the scheme, putting a ‘SAVE LIVES’ banner on feed and fertiliser bags.

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The issue will be spoken about at every meeting held by the IFA this year, Downey said, noting:

A lot of the rooms that we’re speaking to, there’s somebody in that room has been hit by it.

if2 Pat Smith, IFA General Secretary, Eddie Downey, IFA President and Tim O’Leary, IFA Deputy President. Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

“Nobody goes out in the morning to kill themselves,” IFA General Secretary Pat Smith said, noting that farmers appeared to be making simple mistakes when it came to machinery, due to “speed and rushing”.

It’s the simplest of stuff — not putting on a handbrake…

He said farmers also needed to avoid being distracted by their mobile phones, noting that it was something that had been discussed at top-level meetings recently.

“You just have to keep attention,” Smith stressed. “Park the mobile phone if you’re involved in something potentially dangerous.”

Read:What farmers want: A supermarket ‘GSOC’ and to be more like Scotland*

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