Farm Safety Fortnight got underway today with a confirmation from the Health & Safety Authority (HSA) that 250 farms will be inspected over the next two weeks.

HSA press officer mark Ryan confirmed to Agriland that 16 people were killed on Irish farms last year.

“The figures to date for 2014 confirm six fatalities. The good news is that the number of deaths on Irish farms has come down over recent years. However, every member of HSA staff is totally committed to getting this figure down to zero.

“All our research clearly confirms that every farm accident is avoidable. And yes, we understand that farmers are busy people, operating within very narrow time windows, particularly where field work is concerned.

“Machinery- and equipment-related accidents account for the majority of deaths and serious injury on local farms. So, farmers and contractors must ensure that machinery is fit for purpose at all times, and that machinery is only used for the purposes intended.

“Children are off school at the present time so, it goes without saying that an extra watchful eye is required, where they are concerned. And, of course, operators should take that extra second or two, to ensure that they have carried out all of the safety checks required when using any item of machinery.”

Mark went on to confirm that HSA staff will carry out 2,900 inspections this year. “We intend hosting two Farm Safety Fortnights, as part of this campaign: one now and another in the early autumn,” he commented.

“As a matter of course, our inspectors will not give prior warning of a farm visit. In essence, they are advisory in nature. And if we can encourage a farmer’s neighbour, or neighbours, to join our staff during the visit, so much the better.

“But there are issues that our inspectors will act on immediately. One of these is machinery with unguarded PTOs. In these instances, inspectors will issue a prohibition notice on the spot, returning shortly afterwards to ensure that the work required has been undertaken by the farmer or contractor. Farm safety inspection are not cross compliance related matters.”