Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Farm Safety: Discussion
I apologise for the poor connection. It is not 100% but we cannot blame it on the Irish national broadband plan. I am in Glasgow at the COP26 meeting and our Scottish broadband could do with being a little bit better. I was determined to participate in the committee today and when the invitation came in I asked the Chair if he could change the timing. I embraced that change so that I could contribute and play my role here as part of this discussion.
Regarding farm inspections, the impact of Covid-19 is still with us. It is not all about inspections, and picking up on the point made by Deputy Martin Browne earlier, the HSA is the statutory body with statutory responsibility for ensuring safety in the workplace. That includes all workplaces in the country. Regarding determining how that work is carried out, and in the same way that there is a cross-party consensus, there is also a cross-departmental consensus in this area. We all want to change the culture in respect of farm safety and for our farmers to be safer, but achieving that is not all about inspections. I say that because some people would argue that the stress of inspections themselves cause challenges. There is not one contributing factor alone, whether that is big or small farms. Various elements are involved.
That change of culture involves heightening awareness of how things can be done in a safer way. Much of that preventative work relates to promotion From my perspective in the Department, my role is to work closely with the HSA and every other Department, including the Department of Transport on road safety issues, and to be that voice, but also to be a promotional voice in terms of engaging with farmers, calling out some unsafe practices and pushing for changes in that culture.