By Eimhear McGurk
AN Aughnacloy man whose father was killed in a tragic livestock accident just over a year ago, has urged farmers across the North to heed safety warnings as the busiest part of the agricultural year continues.
Harry McAnespie, a hugely popular and well-known figure in the community, was killed in June last year when he was struck on the back of the head by a cow at Clogher mart.
Last week, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland revealed the heartbreaking statistics which continue to show that farming remains the most dangerous occupation.
In 2018, there were eight people killed – one more than the previous year. Significantly four of the fatalities involved livestock, one of which was Harry McAnespie.
Machinery accidents accounted for two deaths, while falls and other accidents each claimed a life, last year.
Speaking to Tyrone Herald, Harry’s son Damien said he believed many older farmers are more likely to take risks.
“My dad was one of those people that always took risks and although there are plenty of warnings and advertisements out there about farm safety, sometimes the older generation don’t always take this into account,” said Damien.
“I would plead with people to really take on board the dangers around farming whether it be working with livestock, slurry or machinery.
“Farmers think it’ll never happen to them but all it takes is a few short seconds for a serious injury or death to occur.”
In 2007, Damien’s uncle Mickey, a former chairman of Omagh District Council, died in similar tragic circumstances when he was killed by a bull on his Loughmacrory farm.
Damien now works as an Air Ambulance NI (AANI) representative for Tyrone, signing up as a volunteer after witnessing first hand the amazing care provided the team following his fathers fatal accident.
AANI is a fundamental service for people across the North but especially for those in rural areas when, if incidents do occur on farms, it would have previously taken much longer for the emergency services to respond.
As part of this year’s Farm Safety Week – held last week – the Health and Safety Executive are reminding farmers to use best practice during their everyday routine in the farmyard.
Damien added, “Farming is such a dangerous profession, so I encourage all farmers to look after themselves and take heed of the advice out there.”
But it’s not just farmers themselves who are at risk, since 2000 there have been 11 children killed due to farm related accidents.
Malcolm Downey, who is the principal inspector with the HSENI, said, “Farming and food production play a crucial role in the life and economy of Northern Ireland. But every year we have to reluctantly report that agriculture has the poorest safety record of any occupation here.
“All too often accidents happen on our farms which are preventable, so we want to continue to raise awareness for everyone working on, or visiting, a working farm. HSENI is committed to work with our partners on the NI Farm Safety Partnership and the Farm Safety Foundation on initiatives like Farm Safety Week to inform their activities and drive forward improvements in safety performance.
“We know that we need to engage with farmers of all ages to tackle this poor safety record and make farms safer places to work.”