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Pat Breen TD, Minister for Trade, Employment and Business, opens HSA exhibit at National Ploughing Championships

Minister launches initiatives aimed at reducing accidents and calls on farmers to get safety training

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, today officially opened the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) exhibit at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Tullamore, Co Offaly.

At the event the Minister also launched a new HSA guide on the ‘Safe use of Quad Bikes’ and announced a new schedule for training on the revised ‘Farm Safety Code of Practice’.

The HSA guide on the ‘Safe use of Quad Bikes’ encourages owners to get training, use protective equipment, such as head protection, and to plan routes.

The revised ‘Farm Safety Code of Practice’ was published in June 2017. It provides farmers with a new risk assessment document that helps identify hazards and implement controls that reduce accidents.

Minister Breen said that training is central to improving farm safety:

“The use of large and powerful machinery on our farms is widespread and has made farming more productive. However, it does concern me greatly that many farmers are working with these machines having never received formal training. Over half of all fatal accidents on farms involve vehicles or machinery. It is possible to operate farm vehicles, such as quad bikes, safely but adequate training is essential. So, my message is clear. Get trained on how to use your vehicles and machinery and on how to use the ‘Farm Safety Code of Practice’. A small investment in time makes your farm a safer place for you, your workers and your family and might ultimately save a life."

Dr. Sharon McGuinness, Chief Executive of the HSA said:

“In 2017 alone there were four fatal accidents involving quad bikes. The use of these vehicles is becoming more common on farms and there is concern that wider use will lead to more accidents. These vehicles are designed to navigate rough terrain and be used in adverse weather conditions, but these factors can affect the stability of the vehicles. I would echo the Minister’s call to the farming community. Get training and put safety at the core of everything you do on the farm.”

Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc spoke about the importance of using the Farm Safety Code of Practice:

“The ‘Farm Safety Code of Practice’ details practical methods for working safely on farms. It was developed in partnership with the HSA and deals with the reality of farm hazards. It is important to emphasis this is not a paper exercise, it is practical and our half-day training course reflects that.”

Copies of the ‘Safe use of Quad Bikes’ guide are freely available at and from the HSA exhibit at (Block 4, Row 14, Stand 299). Farmers should contact local providers for details on Quad Bike training.

Farmers are advised to contact their local Teagasc office or visit for details on the new training schedule for the ‘Farm Safety Code of Practice’.


For further information contact Mark Ryan, HSA Press Officer, 01 6147068 / 0868036141

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Photo Editors

Photography available from O’Rourke Photo (

Editors Notes

Farm Safety Code of Practice

The revised ‘Farm Safety Code of Practice’ was published in June 2017. It provides farmers with a new risk assessment document that helps identify hazards, implement controls and protect farm safety, health and wellbeing. The new version has additional features, including specific sections for ‘Slurry Handling’ and ‘Harvesting’. It also reflects technical progress in the sector, changes in farming practice, equipment and accident trends. The old version is being phased out and farmers are required to be using the new version by January 1st 2019.

Agriculture Fatalities

Statistics from the Health and Safety Authority show that you are [1]8 times more likely to die working on a farm in Ireland than in the general working population.

While the Agriculture sector represents approximately 6% of the working population it consistently has the highest proportion of fatal incidents of any sector generally ranging between 35% and 45% of all workplace fatalities in any given year.

This year so far there have been 16 fatalities in the farming sector. Tractors and Farm Vehicles again feature in the majority of these fatalities.

Particular concern has been noted in respect of the high number of elderly farmers who have been killed recently.

Key focus points for HSA at the NPC

The safety stand will have an increased outdoor element with many active demonstrations. Within the Marquee HSA staff and volunteers from several farm safety partnership organisations will engage with visiting farm families to provide guidance and encouragement to be proactive on farm safety.

Considering the frequency of death and injury involving farm machinery, tractors and other vehicles and Livestock, our focus will be on providing live demos on safety around all these issues. The Farm Safety Village will feature live demonstrations on general vehicle safety, machinery safety, Quad bike safety, safe tractor use and trap zones particularly PTO entanglement. Again this year there will also be a major focus on safe working at height and equipment now available to farmers to carry out minor repairs at height.

Copies of the revised Farm Safety Code of Practice which incorporates the Risk Assessment Document will be freely available. The revised code performs the same function as the original. It has been revised to reflect technical progress in the sector, changes in farming practice, equipment and accident trends.

Irish Heart Foundation nurses will be in attendance for farmer blood pressure and health checks with a focus on reducing the risk of heart attack & stroke.

The ‘Survivor Stories’ and “Older, Wiser, Safer” DVD’s will be on view within the Marquee area, particularly for those waiting for blood pressure checks.

Other topics covered at the stand include Livestock Safety, Farm safety Code of Practice, and Occupational Health and Mental Health issues in farming.

Embrace FARM an organisation established to provide a support network to families who have suffered a farm death or serious injury will be present within the HSA exhibit. Brian Rohan who founded Embrace FARM or others who have also lost a loved one to a farm death will be there to explain the supports available from Embrace FARM.

Staff from the HSA and other Farm Safety Partnership organisations will be in attendance to discuss the critical issues and provide health and safety advice.

[1] The 2013 fatal accident rate in agriculture is 15.9 compared with an average of 2.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers across the general working population.