The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and Teagasc, in association with the Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee, are holding a spring farm safety seminar campaign aimed at preventing fatal and serious injury in the farming sector, according to an HSA press release. The seminars, which will be held in accident “blackspot” areas, will cover key farm safety issues including prevention strategies, safety training and injury case studies.

With 21 farm-related deaths in 2008 and four so far this year, there is clear evidence that working in agriculture continues to be one of the most demanding and hazardous occupations. According to Pat Griffin, senior inspector with the Authority, “Each year we see a disproportionate number of people killed on farms. Last year over 40% of all workplace fatalities occurred on farms and when you consider that only 6% of the workforce is engaged in agriculture we have to find a way to stop this carnage.”

John McNamara, Teagasc health and safety officer, noted that these important seminars are open to all but there is an urgent need for local farm leaders to attend. “We all have to try to influence farmers and change behaviours to a more safety-first attitude. I hope that local representatives of the farming groups can come along and help spread the message to the industry,” he said.

David Meredith of Teagasc says that the highest level of accidents occur in early spring. “It isn’t a coincidence that we decided to hold these seminars during March when the accident rate is higher due to the heavy workload, particularly on dairy farms,” he said.

The seminars will take place in Tipperary (Teagasc Centre, Nenagh, Wednesday 4th March), West Cork (Clonakilty Agricultural College, Thursday 5th March), Westmeath (Teagasc Centre, Mullingar, Tuesday 10th March) and Cavan (Ballyhaise Agricultural College, Wednesday 11th March). Local Teagasc centres should be contacted in advance to book a place.