MEP for Ireland North West Jim Higgins has highlighted the harrowing increase in farm fatalities for European Safety Week, admitted to being 'horrified' to learn the death rate has doubled since 2009.
The number of farm related deaths rose from 11 in 2009 to 23 in 2010. Some 58 per cent of deaths involve heavy machinery, whilst 21 per cent are as a result of misinformation.
Mr. Higgins is adamant farm safety should be the centrepiece of European Safety Week with a greater emphasis on machinery maintenance and work place safety.
He said: "We must place a greater emphasis on developing a community based approach to encourage farm safety for experienced and first time farmers alike - courses need to be practical, free and locally based."
Farmers are legally required to complete an online risk assessment, Farm Safety Code of Practice. The Health and Safety Authority says that only a third of farmers have completed the online assessment.
Said Mr. Higgins: "Online assessments are not practical, broadband is not available to many in the northwest and some do not have computer access.
"Farmers would be more responsive to encouragement and positive campaigns rather than increasing economic pressures and on the spot fines, as is currently the case.
"The issue of farm safety must be addressed, however the Government's plans to increase the economic burden on farmers through prosecution, thwarting direct payments and heavy fining must be completely halted. What we need is accessible local training schemes that will educate new and experienced farmers, not scaremongering."