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Minister of State McEntee addresses National Farm Safety Conference

Shane McEntee TD and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, today addressed farmers at the National Farm Safety Conference at Oriel House Hotel in Ballincollig, Co. Cork.  The conference was jointly organised by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and Teagasc, and was sponsored by FBD Insurance Ltd.  The key message from this year's Conference was ensuring the delivery of farm safety in an expanding agriculture.  

The Minister said that, "global demand for food is increasing, dairy quotas are due to be removed in 2015 and Ireland is positioning itself to deliver ambitious Food Harvest 2020 targets by the end of the decade".  Minister of State McEntee stressed however that the cost of this expansion must not be further farm lives.  He reminded farmers that, "the most important part of your farming business is you and your family.  Your farm business cannot afford for you yourself or a family member to have a serious farm accident or even worse".

The Minister of State outlined that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is an active member of the Farm Safety Partnership.  In March of this year, the Department of Agriculture included a HSA produced farm safety leaflet in the Single Payment application packs which were distributed to over 130,000 farmers.  This safety leaflet featured a farmer who had an arm amputated in a farm accident and the Minister of State spoke of his admiration for this farmer, "for his courage in exposing his personal experience in such a public manner in the hope that it would help make farmers more conscious of farming safely".

Minister of State McEntee commended the HSA on its production of a Farm Safety DVD earlier this year which contains testimonials from 6 individual farmers who experienced first-hand the devastating consequences of farming accidents.  The Minister said, "these short stories are harrowing real-life accounts which are emotionally told.  I advise all farmers to watch this DVD which is available to view on the HSA website and is also being shown at livestock marts all around the country".

Farming remains one of the most dangerous occupations in Ireland with farm deaths accounting for more than half of all workplace fatalities during the last two years.  There were 26 and 27 deaths in the sector in 2010 and 2011 respectively.  The Minister of State drew attention to the fact that the highest number of farm fatalities in 2011 occurred in County Cork.  Already in 2012 there have been 7 farm deaths and a further 5 people lost their lives in the fishing industry. 

The Minister said that "the most vulnerable group of farmers continues to be those over 55 and the main cause of farm accidents and fatalities continues to be farm machinery, in particular tractors and quad bikes, and livestock, in particular bulls and cows after calving".  The dairy sector has consistently seen the highest number of farm fatalities out of all the farming enterprises. 

The Minister called on farmers to be extremely vigilant at this time and over the coming weeks and months when school children are more likely to be playing on farms and young people are more likely to be around tractors and other farm machinery, and around livestock.

Minister McEntee acknowledged the important role played by the Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee and by the HSA.  The HSA will carry out 3,000 Farm Safety Visits in 2012 which will be advisory in nature.  Minister McEntee advised farmers that these Farm Safety Visits would be of great benefit to farmers but he said there is no need to wait for a visit from the HSA.  He said to farmers, "taking a few minutes before every farming task to assess the risks involved could prevent a farm accident and save a farm life.  We need to convert our increased awareness of farm safety into actually farming safely every day".  The Minister concluded by wishing the HSA every success with the National Farm Safety Conference.

Date Released: 21 June 2012