Farmers have been urged to go about their daily farming duties with safety in mind ahead of an expected cold spell of weather.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon reminded farmers to ready themselves for freezing weather, taking any precautions deemed necessary.

The ministers asked farmers to check on neighbours over the cold spell and not to attempt to get jobs done that could wait until the weather improves.

Safety 'before all else'

Minister McConalogue stated that the farmer’s safety must come before all else, but that the opportunity to prepare should be taken.

"I urge all farmers, fishers and everyone in rural areas to ensure that they are ready for the approaching cold spell. The priority must always be the safety of people and then livestock,” he commented.

“Farmers should ensure that their yards are safe, firstly by tidying up to remove material which can cause trips or falls.

“All dripping taps, pipes and drainpipes should be repaired to avoid slippery patches of ice in the yard.”

Farmyards are particularly dangerous areas of the farm and simple hazards such as ice can cause injury, he explained.

“Supplies of drinking water should be checked daily and surface ice broken on troughs twice per day. It is important that taps should not be left running to prevent freezing,” Minister McConalogue added, in telling farmers to be conscious of livestock’s need for fresh water.

High risk

Advice was issued for farmers to steer clear from working at unsafe heights by Minister Martin Heydon, who encouraged people to take the simple steps that can improve their working environment.

“Farming is a high-risk occupation and poor weather increases these risks. So, take the time to ensure that you and your farm are prepared for the cold weather,” he cautioned.

“Simple steps such as having a few bags of salt on hand can minimise the risk of slips or falls. It is only by identifying the risks now that steps can be taken to ensure jobs can be completed safely."

Minister Heydon stated that actions as simple as calling in on a neighbour can make a difference to their quality of life.

“As a community, it is important that we look out for one another. Over the long evenings, there is a chance to pick up the phone and get in touch with someone to ask how they are. That phone call could mean a lot to the person on the other end.”