FARMERS are being urged to play their part in reducing farm deaths.
In a message to farmers, and to those who work in the agriculture sector, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed combined with Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys and Northern Irish Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Edwin Poots, and Northern Irish Minister for the Economy Diane Dodds.
There have been 13 fatal accidents on Irish farms this year, with four lives lost in Cork.
There have been a further three fatalities in Northern Ireland.
Fourteen of the 16 accidents occurred during the Covid-19 lockdown.
In their message, the Ministers said: "‘We all have a long association with farming and have all seen first-hand the devastation that follows farm incidents and fatalities.
"It is very concerning to see a surge in the number of fatal farm incidents on our farms. This year, there have been 16 fatal incidents on farms on the island of Ireland, with 13 fatal incidents in Ireland and three fatal incidents in Northern Ireland.
"The majority of these accidents have occurred during the Covid-19 restrictions and in particular it is sad to see the number of children and older people that have died on our farms in recent weeks.’’
The ministers are asking people to take a similar approach to reducing farm accidents as they have done in working to flatten the Covid-19 curve.
The ministers said: "Faced with an overwhelming public health imperative, practices such as physical distancing, coughing etiquette and hand sanitising have become a cultural norm.
"We need a similar and immediate effort if we are to make a real impact on the prevalence of farm incidents. Farm safety has to be built into our DNA. We have demonstrated with our collective response to Covid that this can be done."
They urged particular caution around slurry: "Following on from the good weather that we enjoyed during May, it is important that everyone is aware of the increased risk when it comes to working with slurry.
"The good weather has the potential to cause greater level of gasses to be released from the slurry during agitation than what may usually be experienced.
"We remind all farmers and contractors that just one lungful of slurry gas can kill. So take great care when working with slurry and always follow the published advice."