Angus Woods: An Cailín Ciúin has a lesson that all farmers must heed
I recently saw the Oscar-nominated An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl), a thought-provoking Irish-language film largely set on a Waterford dairy farm in the 1980s.
The contrast to a modern, high-tech dairy farm is stark, but the film underscores that the issue of operational safety and the long-lasting consequences of an industrial accident are the same today as they were then. Without wanting to spoil an excellent film for you, the aftermath of a farm accident weighs heavily on the characters in the film.
When applying for a TAMS grant, one of the conditions is that the applicant attends an agricultural safety course.
Applying for a grant for a new fertilizer spreader required a trip to the classroom. I wasn’t too excited about it, but I learned a lot.
Statistically, agriculture is the most dangerous sector to work in. A Teagasc survey found that there were 4,523 agricultural accidents in 2020. 46 percent of farming injuries required hospitalization, with another 18 percent requiring visits to their GP.
Almost one in five people involved in agricultural accidents have been out of work for two months or more.
Teagasc’s poll is perhaps on the conservative side and doesn’t account for the many near misses that likely occurred.
In 2022 there were 26 work-related deaths in Ireland, 12 of them on farms.
It is difficult to compare a working farm to other jobs as the majority of Irish farms are family owned, often of two or three generations, which poses safety challenges not present in most other jobs.
In the last decade, 10 percent of farm fatalities were children under the age of 14 and 45 percent were over the age of 65, with Friday, Saturday and Sunday being the days when most accidents happened.
Overall, 55 percent of farm deaths were in age groups not found in most other workplaces.
These statistics highlight the challenge of maintaining safe operations at all times.
The Teagasc course was excellent and well worth attending. The focus was not just on the common danger points on a farm, but on the overall physical and mental health of farmers and how the two are linked.
There is an opportunity to use CAP funds to incentivize and encourage more farmers to follow similar agricultural safety/farmer health courses.
It is difficult to change working practices that have been the norm for years, but the focus should be on creating a working environment where every farmer can reach retirement age, fit and healthy.
In the past, funding has been awarded for discussion groups and knowledge transfer groups.
The increasing workload on farms is putting enormous pressure on farmers and there is now a clear need to make the welfare of farmers operating Irish farms the number one issue on any farm.
Angus Woods is a drywall builder in Co Wicklow
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/comment/an-cailin-ciuin-has-a-lesson-all-farmers-must-heed-42324260.html Angus Woods: An Cailín Ciúin has a lesson that all farmers must heed