News & Events

Ministers Coveney and Nash join farm walk to promote safety

Ministers Coveney and Nash today officially launched ‘Farm Safety Fortnight’, part of the Health and Safety Authority’s (HSA) farm safety initiative for 2015. The Ministers were participating in a ‘farm safety walk’, hosted by Teagasc, taking place on the farm of Andrew Purcell and Alf McGlew, who are farming in partnership at Grangebellew, Co. Louth.

To demonstrate their on-going support for farm safety, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Simon Coveney TD and the Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD joined together with local farmers and members of the Farm Safety Partnership to look at key messages and areas of risk on the farm. There were four key areas were covered during the walk; yard and building design, tractors and machinery, livestock handling and slurry management.

“The number of farm accidents are unacceptably high on Irish Farms and it is important that we collectively work to improve our safety record’, Minister Coveney outlined. “I have provided a substantial grant aid scheme to support safer farms and it is my intention to provide further support in 2015 but it equally important that farmers themselves increase awareness of farm safety,” Minister Coveney added.

Speaking about working with all stakeholders to improve safety on farms Minister Nash said: “I think that ‘partnership’ is the key word here today. I am very happy to see the various stakeholders, who work through the Farm Safety Partnership to collectively improve safety on our farms, supporting this message”.

Minister Nash added, ‘While inspection and enforcement are important they are just part of a mix that includes prevention and partnership initiatives. Farmers, their families and the wider community can all play a supportive role in raising awareness about improving standards in farming from the ground up.”

The Farm Safety Partnership, which is made up of the major stakeholders, has been instrumental in providing guidance and advice that is straightforward, practical and easily implemented and brings together the various stakeholders from government, industry and farming bodies to work together on farm safety.

The HSA also plans to carry out 500 visits during farm safety fortnight, focusing on areas such as tractor maintenance including ensuring serviceable handbrake, animal handling facilities including facilities for calving, adequate guarding of PTOs and other areas of safety.

Minister Coveney outlined, “I believe we are seeing real engagement now at ground level and what I saw today is further evidence of that. For my part I will continue to support farm partnerships and the development of safety awareness through farmer engagements in Knowledge Transfer groups that we will be setting up this year across the sectors”.

Ministers Nash and Coveney also reaffirmed that they would continue to work closely together in this important area of farm safety.

Further information on farm safety visit;


For further information please contact:

Mark Ryan, Health and Safety Authority on 01 6147068 / 086 8036141.

Deirdre Grant Special Adviser to Minister for Business and Employment on 6312227/0860484279

Photo Editors

Photography available from O’Rourke Photography email:

Editors Notes

Organisations represented on the Farm Safety Partnership membership:

  • Agricultural Consultants Association
  • Farm Relief Network
  • Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
  • Veterinary Ireland
  • Veterinary Council of Ireland
  • Coillte
  • Macra na Feirme
  • Teagasc
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (2 members)
  • Professional Agricultural Contractors Association
  • Irish Rural Link
  • Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association
  • Carlow IT
  • Health Service Executive
  • FBD Insurance
  • Irish Farmers’ Association
  • Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association
  • Agri Aware
  • Health and Safety Authority (3 members)


Fatal Incidents in Agriculture

The Census of Agriculture 2010 estimated that there were 139,829 active farms in Ireland in 2010 employing 165,370 annualised work units AWU’s. (Source: CSO – Census of Agriculture 2010). In total when family labour is included it is estimated that approximately 400,000 persons are exposed to health and safety risks on Irish farms.

Fatal incidents in Agriculture and Forestry sectors since 2010:

2015 (to date)3

Deaths in agriculture, unlike many other sectors, generally involve family members including children and elderly persons. Age is a major contributory factor in farm incidents in Ireland (both fatal and non-fatal) with the average age of an Irish farmer now standing at 57 years and increasing. A serious incident to a young farmer if experienced by those over 65 years of age is more often fatal.

Summary of Agriculture Fatalities 2015 – 3

DateCircumstances of accidentEmployment statusCountyAge
21/01/15Tractor rolled down bank and crushed victim against the end of the shed.Self-employedKilkenny61
18/01/15Victim was feeding cattle when his Universal tractor rolled back, pinning him under the rear wheel.Self-employedKerry82
21/01/15Victim was found trapped in the opening of a 600 litre tank which was part of the milk cleaning system.Self-employedWexford42