Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath, Peter Burke, has issued an appeal to farmers and contractors to prioritise farm safety.
Deputy Burke made the call at a time when farmers and contractors are taking advantage of the current warm weather to do bailing, shearing, vaccinating and other necessary pursuits for this time of year, meaning longer working days and added pressure to get seasonal work done.
This weather also means a lot of children are out and about on farms, and it is critical that safety is to the very foremost of farmers’ minds to avoid injury and the loss of life, Deputy Burke said.
“Working with high-powered machinery and fatigue due to long hours are both factors that increase the chances of accidents occurring, and it only takes a split second and one tiny moment for concentration to slip,” he said. “Experience has shown that taking a number of safety measures around key areas will make silage time safer.
“With many children and young people now on school holidays, it is the time to double check that your farm is safe and that every precaution has been taken.”
Deputy Burke is asking farmers to take note of the following information and to ensure children and workers are also informed.
Contractors must not allow children to ride in tractor cabs, and children should not be allowed to play around the farmyard or fields when silage is being made.
Tractors and other equipment need to be properly maintained. Breakdowns, due to poor maintenance, can lead to delays, adding extra cost and more pressure to an already busy schedule. Only competent drivers should be allowed to operate machinery during the silage season and the carrying of passengers should be avoided.
Guards must be in place on all equipment. In particular, PTO shafts must be properly guarded. Never clear blockages by hand until the drive has been switched off and sufficient time has been allowed for the machine to stop completely.
Remove keys from tractors during maintenance. Take care when driving on the public road and watch out for other road users, especially when entering or leaving fields or yards. Keep all lights and indicators in working order.