BY FRANCIS FARRAGHER
FARMERS across the West of Ireland have this week been asked to put safety, mental health, and proper insurance cover against injuries, at the top of their priority list over the coming months.
A special effort is being made this year to make older farmers more aware of the dangers that they face on a daily basis as they carry out their routine farm tasks.
The Farm Safety Authority and the IFA have launched a DVD entitled, ‘Older, Wiser and Safer’ concentrating on three main areas of safety for older farmers. The key points of the DVD are:
To be aware of their limitations such as not being as mobile as they used to be.
Their machines may be old so they need to be properly maintained and serviced.
Medications could be impacting on them in relation to such things as response times.
Maura Canning, of the Irish Farm Family and Social Affairs Committee, told the Farming Tribune that it was easy for many farmers to think that an accident ‘will never happen to me’
“We have to face up to the fact that farms can be very dangerous places with livestock, powerful machinery and slurry pits all hazards in their own way.
“Children, as well as older people can be especially at risk – that’s why it is so important that everyone takes the responsibility and puts in place measures to reduce the risk on our farms,” said Maura Canning.
She also made a special appeal this week for farmers who are feeling stressed or a bit down, not to bottle up their feelings and to talk to someone in confidence whether it be a relative, neighbour or their GP.
The Chairperson of the Galway Farm Family Committee said that the See Change organisation – set up to try and remove the stigma from mental health problems – had set aside May as ‘green ribbon’ month to get more conversations going on this issue.
See Change, the IFA and Coillte have organised a series of walks across the country during May to highlight the issue – one of these goes ahead at the Forest Park in Portumna on Sunday, May 12 at 3pm.
The green ribbon will be recognisable symbol in relation to talking more openly about mental health problems.
IFA have been working with See Change and Mental Health Ireland for the last few years to encourage farmers to look after their mental health.