Legal Advice – Proven Ways To Reduce Farm Risks

Agriculture is one of the most hazardous occupations in Ireland.

The farming sector has more work-related deaths than any other industry.

Although agriculture only accounts for 6% of the country’s workforce, agriculture, forestry and fisheries together had 41% of Ireland’s work-related deaths in 2018.

Safety in the workplace is governed by the Safety Health & Welfare at Work Act 2008.

Under this Act, farmers are required to prepare and implement a safety statement.

However, farmers with three or fewer employers may instead follow the Code of Practice for preventing injury and occupation ill-health.

All farmers are recommended to read the Code and follow the practices contained within the document.

Providing personal protective equipment and clothing is part of the farm safety code of practice.

Providing personal protective equipment and clothing is part of the farm safety code of practice.

The code of practice sets out steps which should be taken, which include the following:

  • A risk assessment and safety statement should be carried out in respect of the farm.
  • These should identify any farm hazards which may cause death, serious injury or ill health.
  • It is advisable to walk around your farm and examine all aspects of it from a health and safety point of view.
  • You should consider all work activities, the workplace and work systems that are in place, when carrying out this assessment.

The second step is that you need to decide on prevention or control measures.

  • You should eliminate the hazard completely, or if this is not possible, you should endeavour to reduce the danger as much as possible.
  • You should also provide information, appropriate training and supervision in respect of all activities on the farm.
  • You should also provide personal protective equipment and clothing.

The final step is that you should review and update your safety statement and risk assessment regularly, and revise it annually.

Safety in the work place legislation stipulates:

  • That the workplace is safe.
  • That all employees on the farm are using work equipment which is suitable for its purpose and is safe, having regard to health and safety regulations.
  • One should also ensure that they are using suitable equipment for the task at hand.
  • All employees should be properly trained in respect of tasks that they are carrying out, and should have the requisite information and skills to secure health and safety.

Under the legislation, there is a duty to report an accident to the health and safety authority under certain circumstances, including where there is a dangerous occurrence, or where the death of a worker occurs.

There is also a duty to inform your employees of matters relating to health and safety including identifying any hazards, preventative measures that are in place concerning health and safety, and a name of a person or safety representative who can be contacted in an emergency situation.

The above deals with the legal requirements in respect of health and safety law, and we also recommend the following practical suggestions in respect of farm safety:

  • Always tell someone where you are and how long you will be there for.
  • Ensure you have a mobile phone with you at all times.
  • Ensure that cattle crushes and cattle handling units are properly maintained and that bulls have a ring and training chain attached.
  • Handle all animals with caution and ensure that all animal handlers are competent and provided with protective clothing and equipment for use in their work.
  • Provide staff with suitable breathing apparatus.

This is particularly important for those working with slurry.

For those who are working with slurry, it is important to ensure that there are high levels of ventilation.

  • Ensure that only competent persons can drive tractors.

Remember, children must be at least 14 years old, and have received training and be under the supervision of a responsible adult, to be allowed drive a tractor.

  • Provide training to ensure the safe operation of tractors and all machinery.
  • Take particular care when animals are released from buildings.
  • Do not erect fencing along overhead power lines.
  • Use ladders properly.
  • Do not rush jobs and put your safety at risk.
  • Plan works so that they can be done safely.

Identifying hazards and taking preventative measures and remedial actions are proven ways of reducing the risk of farm accidents.

In the event that you have been involved in an accident that may have legal implications, it is advisable that you take the advice of a solicitor.

Karen Walsh, from a farming background, is a solicitor practicing in Walsh & Partners, Solicitors, 17, South Mall, Cork (021-4270200), and author of ‘Farming and the Law’. Walsh & Partners also specialises in personal injury claims, conveyancing, probate and family law.

Email: Web:

(Source – Irish Examiner – Farming – Karen Walsh – 30/08/2019)

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