Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Farm Safety: when losing a leg was 'lucky'

Peter Gohery, a Galway farmer who lost his leg in a PTO accident in 2009, never misses a chance to stress to his fellow farmers the importance of safety around machinery, writes Brian Byrne.

At today's Farm Safety event in Kilcullen Mart, he recalled the incident over which he considers himself 'lucky'.

Lucky to be alive. Lucky that he had turned down the speed of the PTO — which didn't have a cover like the one he was speaking beside today.

Lucky that his 10-year-old son was on the tractor and knew how to switch off the power to the PTO, and who could then run to get help.

Lucky to be around today to be able to talk about it. Now with a prosthetic leg, Peter was a keynote to today's multi-agency event which included the IFA, Department of Agriculture, An Garda, Irish Red Cross, and Kildare County Council's Road Safety department.

He spoke of the lack of any support network to anyone in a farm accident. "There's no social welfare because you're self-employed, and my insurance company said I'd have to lose two legs for a viable claim."

Following a short but graphic speech in the Mart itself about his accident, and about its consequences, Peter and members of the Red Cross, and Kildare Fire Brigade, discussed what can be done by anyone nearby to a farm accident, whether it by from machinery, a fall or a crush, an incident with livestock, or a sudden health issue.

But the bottom line to it all was to try and prevent an accident in the first place. And the underpinning to that is as it always was: don't take short cuts, don't take risks, with any health and safety aspect of operating a farm.

As 2017 runs on, it's unfortunately a message that needs reinforcing, as with 15 people already dead in farm accidents so far this year, we are looking at a worse outcome for the whole year than in 2016.