Galway farms targeted as part of health and safety checks

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Authority are carrying out spot checks on Galway farms this month in a bid to reduce the number of accidents causing injury and death.

The random checks are part of a month-long intensive farm inspection campaign which has a particular focus on the safe handling of livestock.

Inspectors from the authority will visit almost 500 farms countrywide. The month of March is a particularly busy period for calving and the risk of serious injury can be very high so inspectors will focus on the common risks encountered and livestock safety in general.

Although the calving period is a particularly risky time of the year, dangerous situations can be minimised, said Pat Griffin, a senior inspector with the HSA.

“I would encourage farmers to take time to understand the basics of animal behaviour and be alert for signs of aggression. In particular, care is needed around cows with a new born calf when they can be unpredictable and much more likely to attack. Never turn your back on a cow with a new born, have a planned escape route and keep children and inexperienced handlers well away.

“The calving area should provide adequate space, be tidy, well-bedded with clean straw and be clearly lit and free of obstructions. Also, well designed calving pens and gates are important and help minimise the direct physical contact between the cow, or heifer, and farmer.”

He added that this is a busy period for calving and the risk of injury is very high. Farmers are working long hours, often with broken sleep, so fatigue and general tiredness can also be a factor.

“Our message is simple, stay alert, don’t take risks and get help when it’s needed. The types of injuries that can be sustained with livestock attacks are very serious and can be life-threatening.”

A free guidance document, Safe Handling of Cattle on Farms, is available on the authority’s website at www.hsa.ie together with other helpful information and advice on a range of farm safety matters.

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