Other Hazards page

Manual Handling
Slips, Trips and Falls (on the same level)
Drowning in Water
Timber Work
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
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Manual Handling

Manual handling injuries account for approximately one third of all reported non-fatal injuries.


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Slips, Trips and Falls (on the same level)

Slips, trips and falls account for approximately one fifth of all reported non-fatal injuries.

Wellington boots may be slip resistant dependent upon their condition, the walking surface and the contamination. The slip resistance of footwear should be determined by the employer/ farmer.

  • Footwear must be appropriate to the walking surface and likely contamination of the working area
  • Footwear with a softer sole and close-packed tread pattern works well with fluid contaminants and indoor environments
  • A more open pattern works better outdoors or with solid contaminants
  • In snow/ icy conditions, specialist footwear with ice grippers may be required
  • Footwear should be trialled in the workplace where it's to be used
  • Footwear and the walking surface must be kept clean
  • Check the soles of footwear regularly to see that they are in good condition, clean and free from accumulations
Wet floor sign

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  • Hay, straw and other flammable materials should be stored well away from a dwelling house and other stock buildings.
  • Store fuels and agrochemicals securely away from other combustible materials
  • Good electrical and machinery maintenance reduces the risk of farm fires. Make sure that the electrical system is checked regularly by a competent electrician
  • Regular maintenance minimises the risk of fire and makes equipment more efficient
  • Examine your farm for potential fire traps. Ensure that there is an adequate means of escape from all work areas
  • Consideration should be given to means of escape and also to the installation of fire detection and alarm systems. Use of naked flames must be tightly controlled
  • To prevent injury from fire all workers must be instructed as to what should be done in the event of a fire.
  • A fire extinguisher should only be used where there is no danger to the user and a clear escape route is available. Persons need to be trained in their operation, and they should only be used for small fires
    • Water fire extinguishers are used for cloth, paper and wood fires only
    • Dry powder fire extinguishers can be used on most fires including electrical fires
    • Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers can be used on most fires including electrical fires
    • Foam fire extinguishers can be used on oil, fuel fires only
    • Follow the HSA advice by clicking on this link
Fire extinguisher

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Slurry presents two particular safety and health problems - drowning and gas poisoning. Drowning is by far the most common cause of death involving slurry. Children and the elderly are at particular risk. In the period 2000-2010, 30% of child fatal accidents on farms were caused by drowning in slurry or water. In the same period 8% of deaths to elderly farmers were caused by drowning.

Smell is no indicator of the absence of gas, as many gases are odourless. Hydrogen sulphide has a 'rotten egg' smell at low levels, but cannot be smelt at higher levels. High levels can be released when slurry is agitated. One breath or lung-full at this level causes instant death.

  • Open slurry tanks should be protected by an unclimbable fence or wall at least 1.8 metres high, with locked gates
  • When the tank has to be emptied, consider having an adequately constructed access platform with safety rails
  • Covered or slatted tanks require access manholes that children cannot open easily. Fit a safety grid below the manhole to give secondary protection. All slurry tanks should be adequately fenced
  • Evacuate all livestock and make sure no person or animal is in or near the building
  • Do not allow slurry to rise within 300mm of the slats or tank covers
  • Avoid smoking and naked flames as the gas mixture can be highly flammable
  • Never enter a tank for any reason - gases can build up and remain in partially emptied tanks above the slurry
  • Never enter the slurry tank or any confined space unless you are wearing suitable breathing apparatus and/ or a harness attached to a lifeline controlled by at least two other adults positioned outside of the area
  • Put up warning signs to warn of the dangers when working with slurry
  • Scrape holes on outdoor lagoons should be adequately protected
  • Cover all slurry tank manhole openings
  • Beware of the risk of back injury if you need to lift slats in the shed
  • Agricultural contractors must be aware of the dangers of working with slurry and should ensure that they work safely at all times
  • Use outdoor agitation points where possible - one lung-full of slurry gas can kill
  • Only agitate where there is good air movement
  • Evacuate and ventilate before you agitate
  • Open all doors and outlets to provide a draught
  • Avoid vigorous agitation in confined spaces
  • At least two people should be present and should stand up-wind
  • Keep all people away from the agitation point for 30 minutes after starting agitation
  • Keep children and elderly persons away from the area when agitating
  • Never stand over slats or near tank access points when agitation is in progress
  • Guard the PTO on the slurry tanker and agitator– do not use unless correctly guarded. A high proportion of PTO entanglements occur when using slurry tankers



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Drowning in Water

Drowning is by far the most common cause of death involving slurry. Children and the elderly are at particular risk. Several people were drowned in water on farms in recent years.

  • Fence off water hazards
  • Take a cautious approach when working near water tanks, ponds, rivers or lakes
  • Take particular care with children who are particularly at risk
  • Put up warning signs to warn of the dangers
  • Follow the Farm Safely advice from Irish Water Safety

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Timber Work

One of the most dangerous tasks carried out on farms is felling trees and using chainsaws.

  • Check the chainsaw thoroughly before use. Only use a chainsaw with correct safety devices
  • Chainsaws should only be used by suitably trained and competent persons
  • Tree felling should only be undertaken by competent persons and children or elderly should be kept away
  • Make sure a first-aid kit, including large wound dressings, is available
  • A safety helmet, suitable eye protection, ear defenders, chainsaw gloves, leg protection, safety boots and non-snag outer clothing should be worn
  • Follow the Guide to safe working with timber and chainsaws
  • Follow the Code of Practice for Managing Safety and Health in Forestry Operations



Using the chainsaw

  • Ensure the chainsaw is properly maintained
  • Make sure you know where the controls are, and that they are all in working order
  • To prepare to start the engine, hold the saw firmly in position on level ground
  • Apply the chain brake when the chainsaw is not in use
  • Shut off the engine before moving from one area to another
  • Never leave the chainsaw unattended while it is idling
  • Never use the chainsaw above shoulder height or when you are off balance

Avoiding kickback

  • Make sure that the chain and chainsaw are adequately maintained
  • Never begin cutting with the upper half of the nose of the blade. While cutting, watch out for branches, logs or other material that could come into contact with the danger zone
  • Grip the saw properly, using both hands. The thumb of the left hand should be under the handle
  • Before cutting, your left arm should be straight. In the event of kickback, this will help to divert the saw over your body
  • Never run the engine slowly at the start or during cutting, as this can lead to kickback

Work area precautions

  • When cutting lengths of timber, such as firewood, make sure the timber is securely supported and that other people are at least two saw-lengths away
  • When preparing to cut a tree or branches
    • Clear any undergrowth likely to interfere
    • Prepare a path of safe retreat to the rear, diagonal to the line of a tree's fall
    • Make sure your foothold is firm and obstruction-free
  • If working on sloping ground, work from an uphill position
  • Lopping branches off trees and working on ditches is extremely dangerous. Use a platform such as a tractor trailer to provide a secure non-slip foothold

Felling trees

  • Make sure the chainsaw operator has the necessary training
  • Consider factors such as the wind, the natural lean and balance of the tree, location of large limbs, and whether the trunk is sound, hollow or partially rotted
  • Watch out for dead limbs overhead and for overhead power lines
  • Make sure that bystanders are at a safe distance
  • Watch out for 'spring poles' or conditions where a log or tree is under tension

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  • The fuse board should be regularly inspected by a competent electrician
  • Regularly check for and replace immediately any frayed and damaged cables around the farmyard
  • Place leads and cables in positions where they will be safe from damage
  • Do not use domestic type sockets, plugs or switches in farm buildings
  • Be aware of overhead lines. Contractors and other persons entering the farm should be made aware of overhead power lines. Check ground clearance before passing underneath lines. Keep away from any fallen lines, and report to E.S.B Networks immediately

Fuses and miniature circuit-breakers (MCBs)

  • Use an MCB or a fuse to protect the circuit from fault or overload
  • Use the correct type and rating
  • Do not replace an MCB with one of a larger size
  • Find out the cause of the fuse blowing or MCB tripping
  • If you are unsure as to the adequacy of your fuse board, MCB assembly or any other part of your electrical installation, check with a competent electrician or electrical contractor

Portable electrical equipment and RCDs

  • Fit residual current devices (RCDs) with a 30 mA fault setting on all 220V and 380V socket circuits
  • Test RCDs monthly, by using the test-trip button
  • Use 110V supply for smaller items of portable equipment (up to 2KVA) in wet areas
  • Keep cables, plugs, sockets and cable couplers in good condition and replace where damaged

Plugs and sockets

  • Domestic-type plugs and sockets are not suitable for use on farms
  • Plugs and sockets must be of sufficient capacity and appropriate to the voltage of the equipment used


  • All exposed metal parts (normally non-current-carrying) must be earthed
  • Protective conductors for earthing must be of sufficient size and properly installed, protected and maintained
  • Protective conductors, if broken or disconnected, must be immediately restored
  • Good earthing is essential if safety devices such as fuses and circuit breakers are to work properly
  • Get your earthing circuits tested by a competent electrician

Electric welders

  • These should be supplied from separate circuits
  • Plugs and sockets should be of adequate capacity (32 amps)
  • An RCD (30 mA fault setting) must be provided
  • Exposed conductive parts of the welder must be bonded together and connected to the welder protective conductor at a common terminal
  • The return conductor cable should be connected to the work piece using a proper clamp
  • User's eyes must be protected by a suitable filter lens contained in a welding helmet or hand-held shield, which protects face and neck against heat radiation
  • Hands and forearms should be protected by suitable gloves and by keeping sleeves pulled down
  • ESB requires notification before an electric welder is installed


  • Portable generators should have industrial-type sockets (IEC 309) located on the generator frame for connection
  • Generators supplying permanent wired installations should have mechanically interlocked switching facilities between ESB and generator supplies (the switch should be clearly marked to show the ESB, generator on and off positions)
  • The ESB requires notification when a standby generator is to be installed

Overhead lines

  • Do not operate or tip high machinery or equipment under or near power lines
  • Check for adequate clearance before passing underneath
  • Prevent danger by line diversion, use of barriers or 'goal posts'
  • Do not build, stack materials or site-fill under power lines
  • Do not burn stubble, bushes, etc, under or near power lines or support poles and masts
  • Never raise metal irrigation pipes under or near power lines
  • When spreading slurry, keep it away from power lines and poles
  • Keep away and keep animals and other people away from fallen lines

Electric fences

  • Don't run fences parallel to power lines because dangerous induced voltages might result
  • Keep fence earth a minimum of 10 metres from main installation earth
  • Never 'twitch' fence wires under power lines
  • Never electrify barbed wire
  • Maintain safe clearances from overhead wires

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  • Handle material in accordance with the advice on the safety data sheet
  • Keep chemicals in original marked containers
  • All chemical products on the farm should be stored in a designated and locked store
  • All containers with chemical products should have a label. Read the label and follow recommendations for safe use
  • Wear suitable gloves to protect the hands from contact with harmful substances
  • Respiratory Equipment protects you from exposure to harmful substances
  • Select the correct equipment as recommended by the manufacturer
  • Wash you hands regularly and always before eating, drinking or smoking

Sheep Dips

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The principal causes of ill health were associated with manual handling, lung problems, infections and noise. Of farmers with occupational ill health, 50% suffer from chronic back pain. Regarding personal health, farmers have been identified as a group with a poor personal health profile (O’Shea, 1997). Male farmers between the ages of 15 and 64 have a death rate much higher than that of most other workers.

  • Avoid slips and trips by keeping the farmyard and farm buildings tidy at all times. Provide adequate lighting in the farmyard and buildings
  • Dampen down dust with water where possible, before sweeping up
  • Always cover cuts and abrasions with a waterproof plaster or dressing to avoid infection
  • Put a vermin control programme in place on your farm.
  • Provide suitable washing and toilet facilities on your farm
  • Protect your skin from the sun by minimising exposure around midday, wearing long- sleeved shirts and hats, and applying sun creams. Wear a hat and light clothing in sunny weather to avoid sun burn. Apply a high factor sunscreen to the skin particularly if you are working outdoors
  • Have a regular health check to monitor your general health and physical well-being
  • Regular checks can identify and start appropriate treatments for health issues early
  • Discuss your concerns with a close friend, family member or health professional. If stressed or anxious always seek help through your family or G.P.
  • It is important to recognise signs of stress and seek professional help
  • Give your health adequate attention

Lung problems

  • Avoid exposure to spores by keeping buildings well ventilated
  • An effective way to reduce the level of dust or spores is to damp down the source
  • An added precaution is to wear a suitable mask, to the European Standard


A range of serious illnesses can be caught from animals and contaminated materials. There are over 20 such diseases in this country, including brucellosis, tuberculosis, tetanus, Weil's disease and toxoplasmosis.


  • If it is necessary to communicate by shouting at another person at a distance of two metres, the noise level is likely to be above the legal action level of 85 decibels (dB (A)).
  • The best way to solve a noise problem is to identify the source and reduce either the noise level or exposure time as much as possible
  • Purchase equipment with low noise levels
  • Keep tractor doors shut and maintain silencers on equipment such as tractors or chainsaws
  • Isolate or enclose equipment with noise above 85 decibels
  • Use mechanical or automatic feeding systems to reduce the need to enter pig or poultry houses during feeding
  • Move away from the noise source
  • Ear defenders must be worn if the noise level remains above 80 decibels

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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • PPE should be considered as the last resort. Before resorting to using PPE, consider using all other control measures to the fullest extent possible.
  • All employees must be supplied with suitable PPE free of charge and they are required to make proper use of the equipment
  • Only purchase PPE which is CE-marked
  • When choosing PPE, make sure that it fits the wearer fully and correctly. Check that movement, visibility and breathing are not restricted in any way. Also make sure that the equipment is comfortable
  • Store and maintain PPE in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions
  • Make sure that everyone using PPE is trained in how to wear, clean, maintain and store it
  • PPE must always be cleaned after use and stored in a dry, well-ventilated, uncontaminated place
  • Safety boots should have steel toecaps and sole protection to prevent foot injuries
  • Eye protection in the form of goggles or visors should be worn to protect the eyes from flying objects, dust or splashes
  • Wear appropriate safety gloves to protect the hands from cuts and from contact with harmful substances
  • Ear protectors help to protect your hearing from loud sudden noise or from continuous loud noise. Hearing once damaged cannot be repaired
  • Face protection visors protect your full face from flying objects, sparks and splashes
  • Dust masks protect you from inhaling harmful dusts. The mask must fit tightly around the face to avoid leaks. One exposure to harmful dusts can make you allergic to that dust and cause long term health problems
  • Wear overalls to protect your body from coming into contact with harmful substances

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AgricultureVehiclesMachineryFalls,CollapsesLivestockChildrenFarmers over-65Other Hazards
AgricultureVehiclesMachineryFallsLivestockChildrenOlder farmerOther hazards

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