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70 killed as a result of farming accidents in Northern Ireland over last decade

By Mark Edwards

Work-related incidents on Northern Ireland farms have led to the deaths of at least 70 people over the last 10 years, new figures have revealed.

The information obtained by the Belfast Telegraph from the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) relates to the period between January 1, 2008 and June 31, 2018.

There have been several tragic deaths on farms in recent months.

In June father-of-four Gerry Collins from Lisnaskea died in an incident on a farm in Fermanagh.

And trainee mechanic Neil Graham (18) died after an accident involving a tractor on a farm at Boho Road in Enniskillen in May.

Toirdealbhach Larkin, who was in his 20s, was killed in an accident while helping to build a shed at a farm on Kinallen Road, Katesbridge, in the same month.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, an MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, said the constituency had been plunged into sadness by the tragedies.

She said: "The Farm Safety Partnership was launched in 2012 whenever I was the Health and Safety Minister. I was a huge advocate and supporter of the co-ordinated messaging formulated by the Farm Safety Partnership and it has continued to publish plans to encourage and promote safety for farmers. Unfortunately, many are prepared to take risks in order to get a job done. We as legislators need to be mindful of deadlines set in order to prevent undue pressures upon our farmers. That's why in previous years slurry spreading deadlines were relaxed due to weather constraints.

"I understand the stresses and strains involved in farming - I hear them daily from constituents, but it is so important that everyone remembers to stop and think 'farm safe'."

The HSENI said: "This number (of deaths) is of huge concern to HSENI as it is our opinion that one death is a death too many on our farms.

"HSENI is working closely with affiliate organisations as a member of the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) to improve safety standards and general awareness of health and safety on farms. The FSP is currently in the middle of its third three-year action plan."

The HSENI said it aims to visit 800 farms per year carrying out inspections and offering advice. It also carries out talks at 90 rural primary schools each year to promote farm safety.

UFU president, Ivor Ferguson said: “No one likes to hear there has been an accident or a fatality on a farm. It is always a sad reminder that farms are busy workplaces and can sometimes be dangerous. The UFU is an active member of the Farm Safety Partnership and has been working closely with the Health and Safety Executive on this issue. The Farm Safe campaign has helped to change attitudes and put farm safety at the forefront of people’s minds. We encourage all farmers before they take on any task to stop and think ‘farm safe’.”

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