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Campaign to help safeguard older farmers

10 January 2023

LAST MONTH, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) launched an awareness campaign aimed at older farmers called ‘Farming gets riskier with age’.

The media campaign is aimed at helping to keep older farmers safer in the workplace by asking them to consider their physical limitations before undertaking jobs on the farm.

Between January 2002 and December 2021, there have been 127 farm deaths in Northern Ireland. Tragically 67 of these incidents concerned farmers aged 65 or older. The majority of incidents involved animals, typically bulls or newly calved cows.

HSENI principal inspector Camilla Mackey said, “No matter what nature of work we undertake, as we get older, things can become more difficult. 

“For older farmers especially, given the challenging conditions and environment they work in night and day, we would ask them to assess the jobs they are doing, know their limitations, and consider asking for help.”

The campaign prompts older farmers to recognise that as everyone gets older, jobs that they may have been considered easy years ago naturally become more challenging with age.

Welcoming the campaign, Harry Sinclair, chairperson of the Farm Safety Partnership said, “Older farmers represent the backbone of our agricultural community. Many will have taught their sons and daughters the ‘farming way of life’ and helped them develop the many skills needed to manage a farm successfully. 

“For those mature farmers, I would ask them to continue to lead by example, and when assessing jobs around the farm and take a moment and consider asking for help, especially for trickier jobs. 

“By taking this simple step they can help ensure their own safety and demonstrate to the next generation how to keep safe on the farm.”