Give Farm and Countryside Safety Some Welly!

Safety starts with awareness and that’s never more important than when working or living on a farm or in the countryside.

That was the message from Agri Aware’s Chairman Bernard Donohue, as the organisation launched its farm and countryside safety initiative for 2013:

Agri Aware’s Farm and Countryside Safety Welly Challenge

Supported by FBD, the IFA and ESB Networks, Agri Aware’s Farm and Countryside Safety Welly Challenge encouragesprimary level students across Ireland to think about the dangers they might encounter when on the farm or in the countryside, and helps them to improve their awareness of how to stay safe in these environments.

These messages are crucial, according to Mr Donohue, in light of the fact that there have already been three farm-related fatalities in Ireland so far this year.

“It is vital that every possible step is taken to reduce the number of fatalities that happen each year on Irish farms,” Mr Donohue said, while officially launching the project “The first step is educating people, especially children. If we can instil in their minds, from an early age, an awareness of the dangers on the farm, and help them to form good farm safety habits, that lesson will be with them for a lifetime.”

Agri Aware’s Farm and Countryside Safety Welly Challenge was launched in Kinnegad, County Westmeath, at the Killeen family farm, home of Agri Aware’s Farm and Countryside Safety Ambassador, Ger Killeen.

Ger rose to prominence in Ireland in 2007, after being chosen as the National Rehab Person of the Year, for his bravery in saving his father Dennis’ life, when he was injured in a farming accident. Dennis lost his arm, but not his life, thanks to Ger’s efforts, at the tender age of 11.

Now 16, Ger is an avid farm safety advocate and in helping to launch Agri Aware’s Farm and Countryside Safety Welly Challenge said he believed awareness was the key.

“You need to remember to be careful and cautious; take your time and don’t be rushing around or you might get hurt,” Ger advised, “If in doubt, ask your parents and read the safety signs if there are any.”

Also attending the launch were representatives from the three companies sponsoring Agri Aware’s Farm and Countryside Safety Welly challenge: FBD, the IFA and ESB Networks, who all said they were delighted to be involved with the project.

FBD’S Kathryn Speedie said, “It is a known fact that 90% of farm accidents could be prevented by better managing health and safety on the farm. It is therefore essential to continue increasing awareness amongst the youth of Ireland’s farming community and support valuable educational initiatives like this.”

IFA’s Farm Family and Social Affairs Committee Chairwoman, Margaret Healy, said Agri Aware’s farm safety message was an important one, with the summer holidays approaching. “The summer is a busy time on farms so it is very important that parents take the time to make children aware of the dangers and set some ground rules,” said Ms Healy. “The farm is not a playground and children need to know what it takes to be safe on the farm.”

Meanwhile ESB Networks’ Kieran Finucane said it was important to respect the power of electricity. “ESB Networks is delighted to be supporting this important safety competition as it will help to give our young people an increased awareness of safety in public areas,” said Mr. Finucane. “Electricity gives us so many of our modern conveniences but can be dangerous if not treated properly. So it is vitally important for people on farms and in the countryside to always look up and look out for overhead power lines and never come too close to them.”

Agri Aware is challenging primary level students to draw a picture that clearly outlines a danger on the farm or in the countryside and to send it to Agri Aware with an accompanying farm safety message.

Students seeking inspiration can look to Agri Aware’s farm safety poster, which is available to download on Agri Aware’s website: www.agriaware.ie

The closing date for entry is October 18th, 2013 and entries should be sent to Agri Aware, Farm and Countryside Safety Welly Challenge, Waverley Office Park, Old Naas Road, Bluebell, Dublin 12.

Agri Aware will choose the top 5 pictures and accompanying safety messages submitted by students from schools across Ireland, which will be used to create Agri Aware’s Farm and Countryside Safety Wellingtons.

There will also be a draw for teachers to win one of three annual family passes to Family Farm in Dublin Zoo.

For more information, visitwww.agriaware.ieFacebook or Twitter, contact Agri Aware: 01 460 1103, or email info@agriaware.ie

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