A Galway farmer who lost a limb in a farm accident will address a series of a seminars on farm health and safety at agricultural and horticultural colleges throughout the country in the next two months.
Peter Gohery from Eyrecourt, who farms a 60 suckler cow herd, will speak about how he lost a leg in a farm accident, at the events which will take place during October and November.
He will tell how he got caught up in an unprotected power take-off shaft which transfers power from the tractor engine to different types of equipment attached to the tractor. The shaft became attached to a loose piece of his overalls and amputated his leg and broke his arm.
He will outline to students the appalling consequences of farm injuries and call on them to pay attention to safety issues to ensure that they do not suffer the kind of injuries he endured.
After his accident he said that local garages were inundated with requests for protective covers as concerned farmers realised the risks of working with unprotected shafts.
Mr Gohery’s talks are part of the “Champions for Safety” project which was announced at the National Ploughing Championships earlier this week. The Health and Safety Authority and Teagasc is calling on students in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and equine studies to become “Champions for Safety”. They will be trained to highlight health and safety issues on farms and land-based enterprises in a constructive and positive manner.
Speaking about the initiative, Martin O’Halloran, the chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority stated that the project will be a “very positive” way of increasing engagement on practical health and safety issues among both young and practicing farmers.
“The positive engagement of young farmers in health and safety will help to foster a strong safety culture, reduce death and injury on farms and improve the overall health of farmers.”
Farming is officially the most dangerous job in Ireland with more than one in three workplace deaths last year occurring on farms.
According to reports there were 21 farm deaths throughout the country in 2011. Tractors and machinery cause the greatest number of farm deaths. Farm animals cause 15 per cent of fatalities while drowning and gas-related deaths accounted for 14 per cent of deaths. One in 10 fatalities resulted from falls on farms.
While farmers make up just six per cent of the working population they represented 39 per cent of workplace deaths last year, according to the Health and Safety Authority.
Dairy farms were described as the most dangerous because they account for almost 60 per cent of the deaths. However, they represent only 17 per cent of the farms.
There have been 14 farm fatalities so far this year in Ireland (fortunately none in Galway ) and 178 in total nationally in the past 10 years. The victims ranged in ages from a 12-year-old to an 88-year-old. The child lost its life in July in Donegal while helping a neighbouring farmer with the baling and wrapping of his silage. It appeared that as a bale was dropping off the bale wrapper it started to roll down the side of the field. The victim appeared to have run after the bale and it rolled over him.
The older man lost his life in Leitrim in May of this year when he went to the assistance of his son who was dosing a newly born calf when its mother attacked him. The father was also attacked by the cow and suffered fatal injuries.
Professor Gerry Boyle, the director of Teagasc, stresses the importance of farmers influencing each other.
“There is strong evidence from the United States that inter-generational dialogue has a powerful role to play in improving safety engagement. However, training in the use of influencing skills is needed to make this approach successful.”