A great time of the year out the country but don’t forget to stay safe at all times

BY ANTHONY O’CONNOR

THE next few weeks will be the busiest time of the year on farms. Silage cutting, harvesting crops, spraying, reseeding and the breeding season are in full swing. Where ever you go, whatever you do, remain vigilant and keep safe at all times.

Road Use: Ensure your tractor is roadworthy with lights, warning lights, indicators, brakes, handbrakes etc all working properly. Drive slowly and with care, especially if transporting a load. Respect other road users.  Allow other vehicles to pass you on narrow roads. If transporting a load/bale, pull in at hard shoulder to allow other vehicles to pass or overtake you. 

Machinery: Getting entangled in machine moving parts is a potential hazard on many farms. Ensure safety covers and PTO guards are in place and working on all farm machinery. Avoid wearing loose clothing near machinery. Turn off the PTO, stop the power source and secure revolving parts before approaching a machine.  Machinery operators should remain VIGILANT at all times.

Children: Young children are naturally curious. They like to examine and play near tractors, machines etc. Always supervise children during machinery operations.  

Bulls: Be aware that there is no such thing as a quiet breed of bull. A bull can be quiet for years but it may suddenly get angry and attack. Such is the nature of the beast.  If herding or handling a bull, always have an escape route planned or have a vehicle such as a 4X4 or a tractor ready in case of an attack. Also be wary of cows who can be over-protective of young calves. 

Spraying: Wear protective clothing and equipment suck as mask, gloves, goggles when using sprays and chemicals.  Follow manufacturer’s guidelines carefully. Wash hands after using any chemicals. 

Prevent harm on the farm: This is the name of a project undertaken by a group of transition year students in the Beara Community School, Castletownbere, West Cork (an area of the country where I worked in the late 1990s). The students, all from farming backgrounds, found through their studies that the most dangerous aspects of farming were slurry, machinery and animals.

And through their research, they discovered that the most dangerous months are July and October, the most dangerous day is Saturday, and the most dangerous time for accidents is between 7pm and 11pm.

The student’s findings are 100% and reflect what is happening on the ground on farms throughout the country. The students received help and guidance from the Central Statistics Office, Teagasc, the HSA and the Department of Agriculture. A website was launched and an information leaflet was produced by this group. 

These young people must be praised for their initiative in highlighting the issue of farm safety in their locality. Projects such as this could be undertaken by students in rural secondary schools throughout the region. It would help raise the awareness of farm safety among the farming community in their locality.

*Anthony O’Connor is a drystock adviser with Teagasc, Athenry. Comments to anthony.oconnor@teagasc.ie