News & Events

Pat Breen TD, Minister for Trade, Employment and Business, calls on farmers to get safety training

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, has today (Tuesday 19th September) launched a new schedule for training on the revised ‘Farm Safety Code of Practice’. The launch took place at the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) exhibit at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Tullamore, Co Offaly. The training will be hosted by Teagasc, on a nationwide basis, and takes place over the next few months.

The revised ‘Farm Safety Code of Practice’ was published in June this year. It provides farmers with a new risk assessment document that helps identify hazards, implement controls and protect farm safety, health and wellbeing. The new version has additional features, including specific sections for ‘Slurry Handling’ and ‘Harvesting’. It also reflects technical progress in the sector, changes in farming practice, equipment and accident trends.

Speaking about safety on farms and the importance of training, Minister Breen said, “We know from recent studies into fatal accident rates that farmers are up to eight times more likely to be killed in an accident than the average industrial worker. Tragically already this year fifteen people have been killed in farm accidents. This is unacceptable. We also know that many people are seriously injured each year. The circumstances for these accidents are created by the risk-taking culture that is all too prevalent in the farming community. We need to reduce these accident rates and I believe that the safety training provided by Teagasc is an important element in achieving that. I would call on all farmers to avail of this training and make safety a priority at all times.”

Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the HSA said: “When we began to update the ‘Farm Safety Code of Practice’ we considered how we could make it easier to use and more practical to everyday farming activities. I think that has been achieved. I would strongly urge farmers to get trained and make sure that they implement what they learn on a daily basis. This is not a paper exercise, but a practical method for working safely on farms.”

Tom Kelly, Director of  Knowledge Transfer with Teagasc said: “Training and increased knowledge does make a difference. The crucial step, however, to cut farm accident levels is to motivate on-going farmer adoption of safety and health measures. Teagasc and the HSA have been working closely on farm safety for a number of years. As well as announcing more training we are formally renewing our partnership by signing a ‘Joint Prevention Agreement’. Through this cooperation we can develop a sustained culture of farm safety.”

For further details on the training contact your local Teagasc office or visit

Copies of the revised “Farm Safety Code of Practice” are freely available at and from the HSA exhibit at (stand no. 318, row 14).


For further information contact Mark Ryan, HSA Press Officer, 01 6147068 / 0868036141 

Photo Editors

Photography available from O’Rourke Photo ( 

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Editors Notes

Further information on farm safety available at  

Review of old COP

The revised ‘Code of Practice (COP) for Preventing Injury and Occupational Ill-Health in Agriculture’ (Farm Safety Code of Practice) is the result of a review that took over 12 months. Many sections of the COP were given to Farm Safety Partnership members, inspectorate staff or to industry experts for their consideration, comment and further development.

The revised COP will help farmers meet their duties under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and came into operation on Saturday July 1st 2017. The old version will be phased out over a period of 18 months. 

Risk Assessment document

The risk assessment document can be used in place of a safety statement and, if implemented properly, will make a farm a safe place to work and live.

The risk assessment is a practical and dynamic document that works by giving the farmer information that will help him, or her, identify hazards. Once identified they can then look at what control measures and safety practices need to be put in place.

Once the risk assessment element is completed, and put into practice, it allows farmers to meet their obligations under workplace safety and health legislation.  

Agriculture Fatalities

Statistics from the Health and Safety Authority show that you are [1]8 times more likely to die working on a farm in Ireland than in the general working population.

While the Agriculture sector represents approximately 6% of the working population it consistently has the highest proportion of fatal incidents of any sector generally ranging between 35% and 45% of all workplace fatalities in any given year. 

Practical advice for farmers

  • Get training on how to use the ‘Farm Safety Code of Practice’
  • Plan work with safety as a priority
  • Be careful and have the right equipment when moving round bales as there have been a significant number of fatalities involving these bales
  • Be aware how winter weather can make working on land more hazardous;
  • Keep a charged mobile phone with you at all times
  • Wear appropriate footwear
  • Take particular care when working at height which can be even more dangerous in winter


[1] The 2013 fatal accident rate in agriculture is 15.9 compared with an average of 2.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers across the general working population.