The Farm Safety Partnership launches its new Action Plan 2017-2020

Date published: 12 September 2017

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The Farm Safety Partnership today launched its new Action Plan 2017-2020, entitled ‘Sustainable Safety’, highlighting its ongoing practical approach to every day farm safety.

FSP Action Plan Launch

Improving farm safety is of critical importance to the farming community today in Northern Ireland, and the FSP has worked tirelessly over the last 5 years to change the mind-set and behaviour of farmers and their families. While much progress has been made, there remains much work to be done.

A 2015 survey of Northern Ireland farmers suggests that there could be as many as 100 incidents per month on farms which require some form of medical intervention, many of these needing hospital treatment. At this level, it is sadly unsurprising that some of the more serious incidents can result in life changing injury or death.

Speaking at the launch Keith Morrison, Chairman of the Farm Safety Partnership said: “Farming and food production play a crucial role in the life and economy of Northern Ireland. But unfortunately we have also seen farming in the headlines for the wrong reasons. All too often accidents happen on our farms which are preventable, so we want to continue to raise awareness for everyone working on, or visiting, a farm.

HSENI is committed to working with our industry partners to inform and support their actions and drive forward improvements in farmers’ safety and health. We know that we need to continue to work with farmers of all ages to tackle the poor safety record and make farms safer places to work.”

The key aim of this new 3-year plan is to ‘To change behaviours by ensuring that farmers, their families and their employees are capable, motivated, and able to work safely and thereby reducing accidents on farms’. To this end, it is the firm belief of the FSP that by working together a sustainable reduction in injury rates and occupational ill health in the Northern Ireland farming industry is achievable.

Also speaking at the launch, Barclay Bell, President Ulster Farmers Union, said: “We all know there are many pressures on farmers, not least prices and the weather, but the greatest threat to any farming business is an accident that leaves a family member unable to work or worse.

“We have made some progress in changing farmers' approach to risk, but there is still a big challenge ahead. That is why from the start of the Farm Safety Partnership the UFU has played an active role and will continue to do so.”

Notes to editors: 

1. The first Farm Safety Partnership Action Plan for Northern Ireland was launched on 1 May 2012.
2. The new Farm Safety Action Plan is the second to be produced by the Farm Safety Partnership and covers the period from April 2017 to March 2020. It is intended to reflect both the current and ongoing efforts of all the partners.  In addition, it will identify new areas for action over the period of the action plan, to ensure a sustainable foundation for a safety first culture. 
3. The Farm Safety Action Plan can be downloaded via the HSENI website.
4. Analysis of incidents since April 2014 show the main causes of fatalities on farms both in Northern Ireland and further afield are due to four issues namely Slurry (16%), Animals (22%), Falls (30%) and Equipment (32%). 
5. The Farm Safety Partnership was established in May 2012 specifically to address the poor record of health and safety within the agriculture industry in Northern Ireland as exemplified by the unacceptable numbers of farmers losing their lives as a result of workplace accidents over recent years.
6. The Farm Safety Partnership brings together some of the key stakeholders with an interest in farm safety in Northern Ireland. It is made up of representatives from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), the Department of Agriculture, Environmental and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), the National Farmers Union Mutual (NFUM) the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster and the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA).
7. The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body, sponsored by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
8. HSENI is the lead body responsible for the promotion and enforcement of health and safety at work standards in Northern Ireland.
9. HSENI produces health and safety guidance for farmers, organises free health and safety awareness days, and provides information and advice through farm visits, by telephone and at agriculture shows. It also monitors the health and safety performance of the industry and, where necessary, takes enforcement action against employers who endanger lives.    

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