Northern Ireland

Concern over rise in Northern Ireland farm deaths

Image caption The HSENI has urged farmers to exercise caution when using machinery

The Northern Ireland Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) has expressed concern about a rise in the number of deaths on farms in the last year.

The number of fatalities has risen from seven to 11 with the executive particularly worried about the age of those being killed.

Malcolm Downey from HSENI said that the average age of those killed was 57.

He urged farmers to step back and reconsider before taking on any farm job.

This year, four people have been killed after livestock accidents, three have died after falling from a height, two where machinery was involved, one from drowing and one in a tree-felling accident.

Mr Downey said it was too soon to identify any trend in those deaths but there was a clear pattern in fatalities over the past 15 years.

Those were:

  • tractors and machinery not being maintained properly and people not being effectively trained to use them
  • work with animals, particularly bulls and heifers at calving
  • falling when doing work at height particularly when repairing rooves

He said the average age of a farmer was rising and many did not retire, playing an active and important role.

"Sadly though, if they are injured, it's not as easy for them to bounce back, to recover from their injuries," he added.

He urged older farmers to "get a bit of help" where it would be of benefit to them, particularly when work needed done at height.

"Farmers going out to work need to stop, to think, to ask themselves what may have changed," Mr Downey added.

"Look at the equipment they are using. Are the brakes working? Do they know how to use it properly?"

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