Home setting makes farm safety legislation difficult

By Gillian Crotty

The vice president of the Ulster Farmers' Union has said that legislating for farm safety is complicated by the fact that many farms in Northern Ireland are also homes.

Barclay Bell made the comments when discussing safety issues around the mixing of slurry at farms following the tragic death of 8-year-old Robert Christie at a farm in County Antrim on Saturday 7th June. He was overcome by poisonous fumes while helping out on a neighbouring farm by mixing slurry with his father Bertie, who is critically ill in hospital as a result of the incident.

Mr Bell said that good practice guidelines had been issued by the Health and Safety Executive, but that the most important thing was to leave any building where slurry mixing machinery is in operation. He said it would be difficult to go further and introduce legislation to make farms safer for children because they regularly serve as both the family home and a place of business. He considers the best way to tackle the dangers associated with mixing slurry and other risks on the farm are through practice guidelines and the work of the Farm Safety Partnership.