There has only been 79 farm safety inspections and investigations carried out by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) in 2021 to date, according to figures from Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Damien English.

This number is significantly lower than the number of HSA farm safety inspections and investigations carried out before the authority’s resources were partly diverted to COVID-19 pandemic control efforts from early 2020.

The number of farm safety inspections carried out by the HSA in 2019 was 1,737, while 897 were completed in 2020, Minister English stated in response to a parliamentary question on the matter to Kildare South TD Patricia Ryan.

“In support of the cross-Government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the lead agency in relation to carrying out work safely protocol COVID-19 inspections, the Health and Safety Authority had to prioritise its inspections towards sectors where there was a high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, such as meat and food processing, construction and healthcare.

“In addition, inspections were also focused on those businesses which reopened in line with Government advice,” he continued.

Inspection programme

The minister explained there will be an increase in the number of farm inspections taking place in the coming weeks, as the HSA will be conducting an inspection programme from 19 July.

“The Health and Safety Authority will roll out a proactive inspection programme in July to coincide with Farm Safety Week (19-23 July) which is an annual event lead by the Farm Safety Foundation and takes place across the UK and in the Republic of Ireland,” the minister stated.