A set of 18 farm machinery safety simulators has been launched by Teagasc and Minister of State for farm safety Martin Heydon TD at the National Ploughing Championships.
The simulators, which have cost €1.2m, will be used at Teagasc’s seven agricultural colleges, with a potential further roll-out for secondary school students.
Minister Heydon joined Teagasc director Frank O’Mara and national health and safety specialist John McNamara for the official launch of the simulators on Tuesday.
One of the simulators is now available for trial at Teagasc’s stand at the Ploughing this week.
Nine year old Conor Bailey one of the first to trial the new @teagasc tractor safety simulators. The 4th class student says he hopes it will visit his school soon @farmersjournal @martinheydonfg pic.twitter.com/0Wcz9H187a— Barry Murphy (@BarryMurphyIFJ) September 20, 2022
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, McNamara said the 18 simulators “will be managed as a pool” for use by Teagasc’s 3,000-strong student population.
“We’re going to get all our students to use the simulators. We need to get the staff:student ratio right to make it work effectively.
“Simulators have been shown to work and they’ve particularly been shown to work for weaker students. We have students who wouldn’t have the experience of driving a tractor, so they’ll be particularly useful in those areas,” he said.
Minister Heydon said that these “expensive” simulators will be spread for optimum use by the farm sector.
“It’s not just for the young farmer who's training in the agricultural college doing their Green Cert.
"There’s no reason for farmers who are more advanced, middle-aged farmers, who are thinking of buying a new teleporter or new machine, wouldn’t have the opportunity to come in to Teagasc and get to experience driving that machine in a simulator type scenario because it is a very different experience.
“There’s a lot of blind spots, they can be a dangerous machine around the yard, so there’s the possibility that every farmer that will engage with Teagasc could have the opportunity to do this.”
Professor O’Mara said: “Students in our colleges will be able to use these simulators to learn and be trained to use a range of machines safely.
"It will greatly enhance our capacity to provide innovative training to a high number of students in potentially dangerous work tasks."