In recognition of the unacceptably high fatality and accident rate in the agricultural sector the Health and Safety Authority set up a farm safety action group in February 2002. Its terms of reference include "the development of a national action programme, co-ordinating the actions of the representative organisations and assigning tasks". In April 2003, the group produced and published the Farm Safety Plan 2003-2007.
This plan sets specific targets, against a base year of 2001, including a reduction by 50% in farm fatalities with no child fatalities, a reduction by almost 50% in the farm accident rate to less than 1,600 per annum and an increase from 10% to 50% of farmers complying with health and safety legislation. The plan recognises the need for a range of activities to achieve these targets and has adopted an approach based on engineering controls, enforcement and education and training.
Central to the success of the plan is the development of a safety partnership between all of the interested parties to develop and co-ordinate the approach contained in the plan and for the parties to have given a written commitment to their contribution to the implementation of the plan.
The Health and Safety Authority is committed to undertake a minimum of 1,000 farm inspections in the current year, with appropriate enforcement action and follow up inspection being taken where necessary.
Following the publication of the farm safety plan, the Health and Safety Authority has established the farm safety action group as a standing committee of the board of the authority as the farm safety partnership to ensure that the plan is progressed and kept under review.