A Deputy Minister has asked farmers to be cautious and stay safe during Christmas and the New Year.
Deputy Martin Heydon TD, who is a Minister of State for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with Special Responsibility for Farm Safety, said in a recent statement: "To date there have been nine fatal accidents on farms in 2021, and while this is an improvement on recent years, it is still nine farms that have suffered an irreversible loss."
"We cannot get complacent; we need to see a sustained improvement in the years ahead."
The Fine Gael politician continued: "Now is the time for all farmers to reflect on 2021 and plan ahead for 2022... it is only through a cultural change on farms to one that focuses on safe behaviours and practices that the rate of serious and fatal incidents can be reduced further."
Deputy Heydon further explained that farmers should consider updating their Farm Risk Assessment which helps to identify and address risks on farms.
"We all need to ask ourselves: How many of the identified risks did I deal with over the last year? What risks that have been identified in the risk assessment will I address this year? Does the risk assessment reflect all the risks on my farm?"
The Kildare South representative added: "As we take time with our families over Christmas, we must remember that the most vulnerable people on any farm are children and those over the age of 65."
"A farm is a wonderful place to spend the holidays, but we must be conscious that they remain working environments."
He continued: "The calving season is also just around the corner and the first newborns will arrive in the coming days. Cows, and in particular heifers, can be unpredictable during or after calving, and may become aggressive.
"They are involved in more fatal incidents than bulls... now is the time to plan for a safe calving season.
"Start by asking yourself, are my facilities in good condition, do they allow me to always keep a barrier between myself and the cow when I am handling the calf; if changes are required to the facilities or systems, now is the time to do it."
Deputy Heydon added that he wants 2022 to be the year when farmers stop and think every morning before they go out on the farm "about what they are going to do for the day and how they will do it safely."
He concluded by saying he wishes "all farm families and happy, safe and peaceful Christmas and best wishes for the New Year."
Deputy Martin Heydon made headlines last week as he was among a number of Kildare politicians who gave a mixed reception to the news of a new school in the former Magee Barracks in Kildare town.
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