BY EMMA CONNOLLY
FARMING neighbours should help each other out by inspecting each other’s property for safety breaches, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has said.
Improving farm safety is something that can’t be tackled by the State or Department of Agriculture alone – it needs a collaborative and neighbourly approach, he added.
Minister Creed made the comments at last Sunday’s third annual West Cork Farming Awards in association with The Southern Star and Celtic Ross Hotel.
He told a packed room of 240 guests that, based on current statistics, at least two people present at the ceremony would either lose their life or be faced with a life threatening injury in a farm accident.
‘I met people recently from the insurance industry who made a very chilling observation in terms of statistics in this area: over your lifetime in agriculture there’s a one in 72 possibility that you will either be involved in a fatal accident, or serious life-changing accident, in farming. If you look at this room, that is probably in the region of two people who will face that eventuality.
‘If that’s not cause to take stock and reflect and say we need to change our behaviour and address this very serious issue, I don’t know what is.’
He continued: ‘The attitude that “it will not happen to me” is bedevilling our efforts to address this crisis. We need to reflect on the fact that a young woman in Co Wexford, age 30, mother of three, the youngest aged three months old, buried her husband this week because of a farm accident. An older man in Co Mayo was killed on a quad bike.’
So far this year, there have been 18 farm-related deaths in this country.
‘Farm safety is the one thing we need to revisit as we expand and grow. The Department and State alone won’t solve this,’ he said, calling for a neighbourly approach to improve the situation.
‘One thing that has always been a hallmark of Irish community life is good neighbourliness and sometimes inside in our own farm we are not as aware of dangers that are in our yard and a fresh pair of eyes might be needed. What I’m encouraging the farming community to do is to look at a neighbouring farm and, in the spirit of good neighbourliness, to please identify what weaknesses there are with regard to farm safety and to reciprocate – your neighbour should do it for you also and take the advice that is given.’