Farming is the occupation with the highest risk of fatalities in Ireland, with a rate nearly ten times the average across occupations between 2009 and 2015. A new report titled Risk taking and Accidents on Irish Farms was completed as part of the ESRI and Health and Safety Authority (HSA) research programme, and was published by the ESRI today (24 May 2017). The report examines a number of different types of risks that farmers take and looks at whether they are associated with accidents or “near misses” on the farm. The authors draw on a survey of over 800 farmers commissioned by the HSA in 2013. The farmers in the study were all male self-employed farmers who had no regular paid employees.
The report examined risk taking in terms of failing to routinely take six different types of safety precautions, listed here in order of frequency:
A statistical model took account of a number of factors at once in terms of their association with risk taking, such as farmer age, family status, farm size, and whether it was a dairy farm. The results showed that:
Accidents and “Near Misses”
Factors associated with accidents or near misses
Dorothy Watson, an author of the report, commented:
“Farm safety is a critical issue. In the last seven years, 138 people have been killed in farm accidents, making farming the most dangerous occupation in terms of fatalities. The results of this report highlight the significance of getting help with difficult jobs and checking machinery in reducing the risk of accidents in farming. Future policies should emphasise the importance of getting help with difficult tasks on the farm, as the research indicated that failing to do so is associated with a higher risk of accidents and near misses.”
Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the HSA stated:
“This research is important because it helps us to develop a deeper understanding of the mind-set of farmers and why unsafe practices are occurring. Once we understand what triggers risk taking on farms we can implement strategies that are appropriate, for the industry, and will bring about a sustained reduction in accidents.”
 The sample of over 800 included 50 interviews with farmers specifically selected in counties with a high accident rate.
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