Because Morgan McManus are based in a rural area serving the agricultural counties of Monaghan, Cavan, Fermanagh and Tyrone we have acted regularly on behalf of farmers and farm workers who have been injured in farm accidents. We have many years experience of dealing with claims relating to the farming and agriculture industry.
Farming is a hazardous profession involving work with potentially dangerous machinery, workplace transport, chemicals, livestock, working at heights or near pits and silos. These are exacerbated by environmental factors such as bad weather, noise and dust. In addition farming has become increasingly industrialised through the use of larger, more complex machinery and the employment of more casual labour such as agency workers and migrant workers.
Farms in Ireland are being run increasingly like other businesses. Farmers are managers who attempt to make a living (or profit) from the investments they have made in land, machinery, labour and animals. Just like other business managers, they are subject to pressures with regard to deadlines and paperwork. Agriculture is an industry that is also experiencing fundamental change. New farming techniques and technologies are being introduced, as are new laws and guidelines. What complicates matters more is that many Irish farms are homes to families as well as being places of work. This means that family members are exposed to hazards that would not arise in normal circumstances. Children and the elderly on farms are particularly at risk.
It is a real challenge for the farmer to balance the safety needs of the home and farm against the need to make an adequate income for his family. It is however important for the farmer to realise that the farm needs to be a safe place of work.
Just the same as any employer (please refer to our section on Employer’s liability), the farmer has responsibilities to ensure that he produces Risk Assessments, a Safety Statement, that he records accidents and reports them appropriately. Particularly, where a farmer is concerned, this will generally involve providing a safe place of work, including farm yards and sheds, safe working procedures, safe plant and equipment, a safe entrance and exit to the farm, information and training for employees, plan to deal with emergencies, a safe storage system for all farm chemicals and personal protective equipment provision where necessary. Likewise, farm workers/employees also have responsibilities and in particular:
- Take care of themselves and others working with them.
- Cooperate with the employer to enable him comply with the law.
- Use any personal protective equipment provided.
- Report to the farmer any hazards of which they become aware.
Farmers must be particularly concerned where children are on the farm. The Irish Health & Safety Authority issued a Code of Practice on Preventing Accidents to Children and Young Persons which came into effect in July 2001. There is also a very helpful section for child safety on the “Farm Safe” section of the Northern Ireland Health & Safety Executive.
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