'Worst period' for NI farm deaths says Health and Safety Executive

Tractor on farm The HSE said it is concerned after 20 fatal farm accidents in NI over the last 19 months.

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The recent rise in fatal farm accidents in Northern Ireland is unprecedented and unexplained, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Twenty people have died as a result of farm accidents in the last 19 months.

Jim King of the HSE told BBC Radio Ulster he had not seen anything like it in his 25 years in the job.

"It's the worst period that we can ever remember where there has been a consistent, unrelenting death toll in the farming industry," he said.

Mr King said the HSE were "not sure of the causes at the moment".

"It may be down to extra pressure on the farmer. It may be down to the fact that people are missing out on the safety message that we're putting out.

"It may be a combination of things but people are no longer perceiving risks the way they used to," he added.

Dangers

Many of the victims have been men over 65.

In May, Stormont's Agriculture Minister, Michelle O'Neill, helped to launch the Farm Safety Partnership, an initiative aimed at reducing the number of deaths on farms in Northern Ireland.

The partnership includes staff from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), the HSE, and the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU).

It is trying to raise awareness of the dangers related to farming and improve the overall safety record across the industry.

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