An intensive farm inspection campaign is set to begin on Monday, October 1, with a special focus on working safely at heights.

Lasting for two weeks, both the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) will carry out inspections across the entire island.

Inspectors will be visiting farms and ensuring that farmers are carrying out work at height safely. They will also draw attention to information and guidance available from both the HSA and the HSENI.

A total of 21 people have been killed due to farm accidents on the island to date in 2018 – 16 in the Republic of Ireland and five in Northern Ireland. Of these, one fatal fall occurred in each jurisdiction.

During the campaign Inspectors will also highlight the dangers of falling objects, such as round bales and other feed items.

These items are sometimes stored at height and it is important that they are properly stacked and handled to avoid them falling and causing crush injuries, according to the safety experts.

Planning is a key area that needs to be addressed before carrying out any work at height, according to senior inspector for agriculture with the HSA, Pat Griffin.

We are asking farmers to plan ahead and make sure that work at height is only carried out using the proper equipment and with protective measures in place.

“This can be done by carrying out a risk assessment that identifies all of the hazards especially when working to repair fragile roofs. Most falls from height are fatal; it’s not worth taking a risk,” he said.

Meanwhile, senior inspector with the HSENI, Malcom Downey, urged farmers to use a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP).

“MEWPs significantly reduce the chance of a fall and, using the right equipment, also makes the work easier and much quicker,” he added.