Liam Aylward MEP for Ireland East and Member of the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development put the wheels in motion this week for action on tackling farm safety issues at the European level.
“As a sector, agricultural workers suffer 1.7 times the average rate of non-fatal occupational accidents and 3 times the rate of fatal accidents and there are generally over 550 fatal accidents in farming across the EU each year. The number of child deaths on farms is alarmingly high. It is clear that measures and initiatives are needed to supplement and assist Member States, farming organisations and farmers in raising awareness and reducing the risks of harm to workers in agriculture.”
The Ireland East MEP has requested the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development undertake a Report on “Enhancing Farm Safety in European Agriculture” which could feed into the review of CAP 2014 which is currently underway and assist farming organisations and farmers in increasing measures to promote farm safety.
“I have met this week with colleagues from the European Parliament Agriculture Committee to gather support for this proposal and I hope that in the coming weeks the procedure will be approved. Farm safety is integral to farming but it is often overlooked in policy debate.”
“As agriculture is one of the oldest EU policies and as the CAP is marking 50 years this year, it is an appropriate time to put a Report together on best practice in farm safety and developing how the European scope of agriculture can be used positively and proactively to enhance farm safety and tackle the worrying increase in fatalities and accidents.”
The Ireland East MEP wants to put a specific focus on health and safety issues in agriculture as it is a sector with a very high risk profile and a consistently high fatality rate. Farming is a hazardous occupation. Working long hours in all weathers and conditions, dealing with powerful machinery, as well as handling a variety of animals exposes farmers to an increased variety of risks that are not present in other sectors.
“Health and safety concerns in agriculture are not the same as other sectors and often the risk factors are higher and more frequent. The specificity of agriculture and the risks facing farmers is often missed in more general Health and Safety policy documents.”
The MEP is keen to stress that the aim of this Report is not to increase red tape and bureaucracy for farmers but to raise awareness and encourage exchange of best practice at the European level.
“It is necessary to be quite clear from the outset that my aim with this initiative is not to increase bureaucracy and restrict farmers, but it is evident that increased promotion and awareness of farm safety as well as training to support farmers to create a safer working environment is the best way to reduce farm accidents. Illness and injury can ruin lives and businesses particularly in agriculture.”