Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Ulster farm accidents toll is 67

George Lucas, HSENI chairman; Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster; Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill and Harry Sinclair, UFU president at the launch of the Farm Safety Action Plan Taking the Next Steps to Safer Farms (Press Eye/PA)
George Lucas, HSENI chairman; Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster; Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill and Harry Sinclair, UFU president at the launch of the Farm Safety Action Plan Taking the Next Steps to Safer Farms (Press Eye/PA)

Almost 70 people have died in farming-related accidents in Northern Ireland over the last decade.

Five of the victims were children aged under 11, research by the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) revealed.

More people were killed farming than in other industries and a new Farm Safety Action Plan has been launched to combat the threat.

HSENI chairman George Lucas said: "The real power to make a difference to the terrible safety record ultimately lies with farmers themselves."

A total of 67 work-related deaths were recorded between 2004 and last year.

The plan highlighted the importance of simple steps to manage key hazards including slurry, animals, falls and equipment.

The deaths of three members of one family in a slurry tank accident has had a profound effect on the farming community, the Ulster Farmers' Union has said.

In September 2012 Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, 22; his brother Graham, 30, and father Noel, 58, were overcome by slurry gas.

Mr Lucas added: "The most recent research shows that a growing number of stakeholders are saying that accidents are not inevitable; they are avoidable.

"This is encouraging evidence of a welcome change in perception.

"However, whilst improvements have been made to promote the farm safe message, more work is needed to ensure that farmers do not make the decision to take an uncalculated risk but rather stop and think safe."

Agriculture minister Michelle O'Neill said a partnership between the HSENI, UFU and other agriculturalists had been doing sterling work.

She added: "Every loss of life is a tragedy and can be avoided with simple steps and by stopping to think safe.

"The partnership's new action plan will go a long way to influence future behaviour so that farmers, their families, and their employees are capable, motivated, and able to work safely to reduce accidents on farms."

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