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Irish regulators launch farm inspection campaign to minimise work at height risks

Inspectors on both sides of the Irish border will be visiting farms to check that work at height is carried out safely in a two-week campaign. 

Irish regulators launch farm inspection campaign to minimise work at height risks
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The Health and Safety Authority in the Republic of Ireland and the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) are launching the campaign today, which will include a special focus on the risks of work on fragile roofs.

Many agriculture buildings use fragile roofing materials that cannot support a person’s weight. The Irish regulators have found that serious and fatal falls often occur when farmers are repairing storm-damaged buildings.

Inspectors will visit farms and advise that only competent individuals should undertake roof work. They will also highlight the importance of farmers risk-assessing all work at height, paying attention to fragile roofs. 

Inspectors will emphasise the importance of selecting a suitable system of work and equipment before carrying out any work.

The campaign will highlight also the dangers of falling objects such as round bales and other feed items, which are often stored at height. Inspectors will advise farmers on the importance of safely stacking and handling these items to minimise the risk of falls and related crush injuries.

Although only around 6% of the Irish working population is employed in the agriculture sector, the Irish regulators report that the industry accounts for up to 50% of workplace deaths.

Since the start of this year, 16 people have died south of the border and five in Northern Ireland from farming accidents. One fatal fall occurred in each country.

In 2017, there were 25 farm fatalities in the Republic of Ireland and six north of the border. All four of the deaths that related to falls or falling objects occurred in the Republic of Ireland.

Michael Downey, senior inspector with the HSENI, said: “It is essential that anyone working at height plans the work and uses the right equipment – for example, using a mobile elevated work platform [because they] significantly reduce the chance of a fall.”

 

Nic Warburton is acting editor, IOSH Magazine

 Nick Warburton is acting editor of IOSH Magazine. He is a former editor of SHP and has also worked on Local Authority Waste and Recycling and Environmental Health Practitioner

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