The agricultural sector has consistently suffered the highest number of fatal workplace injuries across all sectors of the Irish economy for the past 10 years (2013-2022). In total, there was an average of 19 fatal incidents on Irish farms each year during this period.
Unfortunately, the statistics for 2023 will not see any significant improvement, with agriculture accounting for 10 out of 26 recorded workplace fatalities across all sectors of the Irish economy. Therefore, agriculture is on course to have suffered 40% of all workplace fatalities in Ireland in 2023. Even more worryingly, approximately 4,500 non-fatal incidents occur on Irish farms each year, many of which result in life changing injuries.
In response to these disturbing trends, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine launched the National Farm Safety Measure in 2023 in order to incentivise farmers to purchase and use certain farm safety equipment. This equipment protects farmers and machinery operators from serious and fatal injuries.
The measure provides a financial contribution to participating farmers for a maximum of two quad helmets and four PTO shaft covers. The grant aid is provided at a rate of 60%, subject to a maximum eligible cost of €100 per PTO shaft cover and €150 per quad bike (ATV) helmet.
The deadline for submitting expressions of interest was 27th October 2023 but Minister of State with responsibility for Farm Safety at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Heydon T.D., announced a 2-week extension to the deadline for submitting applications for payment to Friday 10th November. Minister Heydon announced the 2 week extension to give farmers who had submitted an expression of interest to purchase their investments and submit their claims.
“It is important that every farmer invests in quad helmets if operating a quad and replaces any damaged or missing PTO shaft covers,” the Minister said during his announcement. The Minister highlighted a recent study by the National Office of Clinical Audit and St. Vincent’s University Hospital on quad bike related trauma in Ireland. The study clearly demonstrated the benefit of wearing a quad helmet where the incidence of head injuries, the most severe body injury, was reduced from 47% of cases where no helmet was worn to 7% of cases where a helmet was worn. Quad bikes account for 12% of all vehicle related deaths in Ireland.
From 20th November 2023, it will be mandatory for all operators of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs /Quads) to undergo training and to wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including a helmet, when using such vehicles for work.
For more information about the National Farm Safety Measure and to submit your claim, click here.