Date of Award
Master of Business (Research)
Department of Marketing and International Business
While the Irish agricultural sector accounts for just 6% of the working population of Ireland, it consistently has the highest proportion of fatal incidents of any sector - generally ranging from between 35% and 45% of all workplace fatalities in any given year (Health and Safety Authority, 2015). This was again evident in 2014 where 55% (30 of the 56) of the fatal workplace incidents were in the agricultural sector (Health and Safety Authority, 2015). Agriculture has an ageing workforce with the average age of an Irish farmer now standing at fifty-seven and farmers are eight times more likely to be fatally injured in a farm accident than the general working population (Health and Safety Authority, 2015). Over the last number of years farmers over the age of sixty-five have accounted for almost half the farm fatalities in any given year (Health and Safety Authority, 2015).
The findings from this research show that the farm is both a home and a workplace and this often leads to complacency when doing farm work. A mentoring system needs to be established to advise farmers on best practice. This needs to be modelled on the Swedish Safe Farmers Common Sense programme which had 3 main pillars - individual farm visits, courses in safe farming and group farm walks. This was so successful that it managed to reduce the number of farm fatalities in Sweden to zero in 2013. This educational farm safety mentoring programme will nurture a social norm of safe farming practices.
Live testimonials from farmers who have been involved in farming accidents also need to be incorporated into all farm safety talks and demonstrations. These need to show farmers the physical, emotional and financial consequences of a farming accident. These farm accident victims should attend individual farm visits, courses in safe farming and group farm walks. These farm accident victims should be directly employed under a Health and Safety Authority (HSA) funded scheme so they are freely available and remunerated to talk to farmers, all over the country.
Practical workshops need to be set up so farmers learn specific skills appropriate to their farming situation. Lecture-based teaching where farmers sit and listen about safe farming practices should be avoided as farmers like to learn by doing. Farm advisory bodies need to explain to older farmers that they should respect the limitations on what they can do on a farm. The media used to promote this safe farming message should be age-appropriate.
Constant promotion of safe farming practices to farmers, partners and children will ensure good safe farming attitudes and behaviour, among all members of the farming community.
O'Connell, Kieran, "Farm Deaths and Injuries: Changing Farmer Attitudes and Behaviour on Farm Safety" (2017). Theses [online].
Available at: https://sword.cit.ie/allthe/294