I wrote recently a brief blog with my comments on a Health & Safety Executive report in relation to accidents at work over the period of 2009/10.
It has been drawn to my attention that health and safety inspections in Ireland are being increased following a large increase in farm fatalities over the course of the last 12 months. The number of people who I understand died on Irish farms in 2010 was 25 as compared to a total of 11 who were tragically killed in 2009.
It used to be and clearly still is, that farming was one of the most dangerous of occupations. Many people would be surprised at this comment, however if one thinks about the machinery that is now used within the farming industry and how farmers not only have to operate but also repair this machinery, this should come as little surprise. It is easy to cut corners. When time is against you and certainly farmers have a very limited period over which they can work, the winter months being generally periods where little can be done insofar as arable farming is concerned and when farmers have to work from daybreak, sometimes well into the night, it becomes even more obvious that tired farm employees are placing themselves at risk.
The suggestion from what I have read is that the intention is to penalise farmers who do not comply with safety requirements by the farmers losing some of their farm payments from the EU. Whilst I appreciate that this is a very easy and obvious incentive, I am not sure that this is necessarily the right answer. Although there is a train of thought that suggests that one has never met a poor farmer, this is simply not the case and farmers have to work extremely hard for the living that they make. One wonders whether instead a policy of continued education on the importance of safety issues might be an appropriate avenue to follow.
Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Slater and Gordon Lawyers. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.