Ulster Unionist Party Assembly Member for Mid-Ulster, Sandra Overend, who attended the launch of the hard-hitting media campaign urging farmers and farm families to stop and think SAFE, has congratulated Farm Safety Partnership, but is urging the Agriculture Minister to do more to help farmers to implement better practices.
Mrs Overend said: “I am encouraged by the cross-departmental work being undertaken by DETI and DARD in increasing farm safety awareness with the recently launched SAFE campaign. Its impact will hopefully be as strong as the similarly hard-hitting “Never Ever Drink and Drive” television campaign, which has helped to reduced drink related road traffic collisions in recent years.
“However, promoting health and safety on farms is only part of the solution to an ever present and ever tragic problem of injury and loss of life on farms. Farming accidents remain a large problem here in Northern Ireland, and our safety record to date has been poor. Farm accidents do not only affect the person who suffers the accident, but also the family of the victim and often the life and working of the farm itself. It is encouraging to see that this point is made clear as part of the farm safety awareness campaign.”
Sandra continued, “This awareness raising campaign really is needed and I am sure it will go a long way toward promoting farm safety. The key is to educate our farmers and farm workers on the risks involved in their work, and how to be best placed to avoid accidents. This can be done in a range of ways, including providing courses for farmers to attend to make them more aware of the risks involved in their work or to implement better practices. Measures to improve safety can also be provided through direct funding to farmers, for example through the Farm Modernisation Scheme, which already includes a priority area of ‘enhanced occupational safety and business efficiency’. As the Third Tranche of the Farm Modernisation Scheme ended at the end of last year, I will be questioning the Minister for her plans on opening a fourth tranche of this funding and for her priority in placing farm safety high on the agenda for awards.
“I call on the Minister to, not only warn farmers about the dangers of farming, but also ensure that all is done to educate and inform farmers of the dangers of working on a farm, and provide them with the necessary information and means to protect themselves from those dangers.”