Wellbeing of Farmers: Physical Wellbeing, Mental Wellbeing, Social Wellbeing
Key Challenges: Lack of basic services, Lack or difficulties in accessing health services, Lack of specialist mental healthcare services, Low farm income (market vulnerability), Lack of attractiveness of certain farming profession, External factors (whether, climate change, etc.), Pressure from society/negative perceptions
Key Target Groups: Young farmers, Female farmers, Older farmers, Farm Workers (laborers)
Farm Size: Small/Family, Medium, Large
Accidents and fatalities are a continuing cause of concern for the farming community in Ireland. Adding to these worries for farmers in Northwest Connemara is the isolated nature and rugged terrain of most of the farmland in the region where the distance from medical care can also be an issue.
Many farmers in this area live alone, work alone and are often a long distance away from medical help. The FORUM Connemara Farm Health and Safety Initiative aimed to address these problems by promoting methods for improving both the physical and mental health of the farmers and their family members in the area, as well as addressing the overall safety on the farm in practical, low-cost, and easily implementable measures.
The following objectives were met during the program:
1. Increased Knowledge – The team delivered a specially tailored Connemara Farming Health and Safety (CF-HANDS) Training Programme highlighting the importance of proactive safety checks and best farming practice.
2. Increased Awareness – Delivered a 12-week Farming Health, Safety and Wellbeing Radio show and also a Social Media campaign.
3. Shared Information – Public presence at marts and shows providing information and advocacy.
4. Improved Safety – Creation of Connemara Farm Health and Safety packs which included first aid kits and safety gear as well as checklists and safety plan templates. The initiative also created a safety information pack for local schools in both English and Irish.
5. Innovation – Highlighted and piloted new innovations and new technology to help the farmer farm safer and positively impact their mental and physical health.
The FORUM Connemara Farm Health and Safety initiative aimed to promote and enhance current levels of on-farm health and safety at a local level on farms across Northwest Connemara by fostering better communications and facilitating information-sharing, training and knowledge distribution among farming families.
This initiative also promoted methods for improving both the physical and mental health of the farmers and their family members in the area, as well as addressing the overall safety on the farm in practical, low cost and easily implementable measures.
• Delivering a specially tailored Connemara Farming Health and Safety Training Programme.
• Running a 12-week Farming Radio show and Social-Media campaign.
• Public presence at marts and shows to host Health, Safety and Wellbeing stalls providing information and advocacy.
• Liaising with schools regarding Farming Health, Safety and Wellbeing.
• Creation of 120 Connemara Farm Health and Safety packs including first aid kits and safety gear as well as checklists and safety plan templates.
• Highlighting and piloting new innovations and technology.
• Providing Quad Bike and First Aid training for lone workers as well as the completion of Farm Risk Assessments and Farm Safety Plans.
Main Outcome of the activity
In terms of specific outcomes, the FORUM Connemara Farm Health and Safety Initiative:
• Engaged with and delivered training to over 250 farmers in the locality on Quad Bike safety, First Aid training for lone workers, chainsaw safety, abrasive wheels, safe pass, manual handling and pesticide use courses.
• Successfully highlighted and piloted new innovations and new technology to help the Connemara farmers farm safer.
• Completed 120 Farm Risk Assessments and Farm Safety Plans thereby ensuring these farms are now safer workplaces.
Main Practical Recommendations
Reduced Injury Risk: Implementing training schemes will significantly reduce the risk of accidents and associated injuries. This leads to reduced medical costs and downtime due to injuries.
Increased Efficiency: Well-trained and safe workers are more productive and efficient. They make fewer mistakes, resulting in overall improved performance and less injuries.
Compliance with Regulations: Adhering to safety recommendations ensures compliance with legislation and regulations, potentially avoiding fines or legal issues.
By embracing these recommendations, farm practitioners can create a safer and more productive work environment, ultimately benefiting both themselves and their families and the overall success of the farm.
Key Stakeholders Involved
- EIP-AGRI Operational Groups
- Local Action Group (LAG)
Most Innovative Aspects of the Solution
• The FORUM Connemara Farm Health and Safety Initiative developed an App for Farm Risk Assessments which can be used on smartphones and reminds farmers to action the items marked as needing attention.
• 3 types of quad bike rollbars were tested and evaluated. The initiative shared its findings with the Irish Health and Safety Authority (HAS). This was the only farmer-led evaluation in Ireland.
• The FORUM Connemara Farm Health and Safety Initiative trained farmers in the use of What3Words a geolocator app that can be used to communicate their whereabouts to 3m squared precision to emergency services without needing mobile coverage.