Maura Canning, IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chairwoman has reacted strongly to the Health and Safety Authority’s (HSA) decision to consider direct prosecution of farmers without consultation with the Farm Safety Partnership.
As of January 2015, farmers who fail to have all access points to a slurry pit covered, fail to have the PTO shaft covered, or have a child under seven in the cab of the tractor or agricultural vehicle can be directly prosecuted without warning.
“The decision to introduce these new rules without consultation or notification shows a complete disrespect for the agricultural partners”, said Mrs. Canning. “I am very disappointed that the HSA would introduce any changes without consulting the Farm Safety Partnership, which was established by the HSA as an advisory committee on the Agricultural sector”.
Mrs. Canning said that research has consistently shown the best way to improve farm safety is to change behavioural habits of farmers through education and training. Threatening prosecution does not reduce farm accidents or fatalities.
It is the IFA’s position that the agricultural partners on the Farm Safety Partnership must have an opportunity to discuss the merit or otherwise of any proposed changes to farm safety and its overall benefit to improving farm safety practices. IFA has sought an urgent meeting with the HSA.