During the period 2017 – 2016 there were 197 fatalities as a result of farm accidents (Health and Safety Authority of Ireland, 2017).
The breakdown of accidents is as follows:
- 27% vehicular;
- 21% machinery;
- 13% livestock;
- 10% drowning;
- 10% falls from height;
- 9% falling objects;
- 7% timber related; and
- 1% electrocution.
Vehicle injuries, usually involving tractors, are the single greatest cause of accidents. It’s essential that tractors are well maintained, have a cab or safety frame, and are fitted with properly working brakes and hydraulics. Tractors are large and heavy and pose a particular risk of rolling over on sloped ground. Where a tractor has a defective handbrake it may roll from a stationary position and cause serious injuries to any unfortunate employees who find themselves in its path. Hydraulic fluid that leaks from the tractor may burn and cause infection and medical attention should be sought as soon as possible. Quad bikes and other terrain vehicles provide great utility to the modern farm but require professional training to be provided to those using them and also protective clothing including a helmet. Farm machinery may also give rise to risk of injury if appropriate training and precautionary measures are not undertaken. All required guards and coverings should be used. All loads should be properly stabilised and appropriate safety overalls should be used.
Livestock also present a significant risk to farm employees with many accidents occurring when loading or unloading livestock. Properly built cattle crushes should be utilised and due regard should be had to the risk associated with animals especially when distressed. Bulls present a significant risk to farm employees, however cows have caused the most fatalities (12 in the period 2007 – 2016).
Health and safety duties
As in other occupational settings, steps required to reduce agricultural accidents are set out in the Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act 2005. A farmer must provide a safe place of work and a safe system of work for their employees. This includes an obligation to ensure all machinery is safe and doesn’t pose undue risk of injury. Normal manual handling training requirements that apply to any workplace also apply to farms. Protective equipment including non-slip footwear must be used where necessary. If dangerous substances, for example chemicals or slurry, are involved employees must not be forced to become exposed to health risks in order to undertake their work duties with these substances. Slurry presents a significant drowning risk but also an unexpected danger in form of gas poisoning.
Farm and Rural Injury Solicitors in Dublin, Ireland
Sherwin O’Riordan can provide the expertise in investigating your claim arising out of a farm accident. Expert engineering safety or agricultural opinion will be sought to assess whether your employer has exposed you to danger in the form of an avoidable accident. Contact us to discuss your case and your options with regard to compensation for your injuries.