Farm Safety Week running from July 20-24 has been supported by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland, the charity, Rural Support and beef and lamb processors, ABP through a special podcast presented by broadcaster, Karen Patterson.

The weeklong initiative has been organised by leading farming charity The Farm Safety Foundation.

With Covid-19 having a significant impact on Northern Ireland, businesses, communities, economy and agriculture sector, farm safety, must remain a key priority on all Northern Irish farms, says the HSE.

HSENI would like to use Farm Safety Week to reinforce our key safety messages and to offer advice to the industry.

"We are also pleased to launch our new ‘Farm Safe Essentials’ message during Farm Safety Week. The Farm Safe Essentials message aims to drill down into the key elements and key issues which are the main causes of major incidents and death on our farms. The first in a series of Farm Safe Essential messages is entitled ‘No Brakes, No Chance’. Tragically faulty brakes or not applying brakes properly have caused a number of fatal incidents over the years. HSENI is encouraging the farming community to inspect and maintain their vehicles brakes regularly.

Camilla Mackey, HSENI Principal Inspector, said: “All farm machinery presents many dangers if you do not keep them in a good condition, and while they allow farmers to work quicker and more efficiently, safety is critical when carrying out maintenance, particularly in relation to vehicle brakes.

“Where faults do arise, especially in relation to brakes and braking systems in vehicles, farmers must make sure the person that is carrying out the repairs is competent to do so.”

Further information on farm machinery brake maintenance can be found at

According to the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity behind the annual campaign, when comparing older and younger farm worker age groups, the five year fatal injury rate is nearly six times higher for over 65s compared to the 16-24 age group.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in GB report 2019/2 outlines that 20 farm workers were killed on farms over the past year – a 37.5% decrease on the previous years figure of 32. Of those killed, 20 were agricultural workers and one was a member of the public – a four year old child.

To mark the start of the annual Farm Safety Week campaign, HSE have shared their in-depth report into fatal injuries in the sector and revealed that, over the past year, a total of 21 people in England, Scotland and Wales were killed in agriculture; 20 agriculture workers and one member of the public, a four year old child. The biggest cause of these fatalities was farm transport.

Workers over the age of 55 were disproportionately at risk of death following an incident. Even with the numbers overall dropping this year which is encouraging news, agriculture still has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, a shocking 18 times higher than the all-industry rate, accounting for around 20% of worker fatalities.

The agri-food business ABP Northern Ireland has teamed up with broadcaster, Karen Patterson for an innovative podcast aimed at farming families. Called ‘ABP Now We’re Talking Farming,’ the idea for the podcast came about because of the cancellation of summer agricultural shows due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. It is farm safety awareness week (20th-24th July) and the first episode, which is available to listen to now, is a timely reminder of keeping safe on the farm.

George Mullan, Managing Director of ABP Northern Ireland explained; “Sadly due to Covid-19 the farming and agri-food industry has missed out on getting together at the summer rural events. From our platinum sponsorship of the Balmoral Show to our support of local shows we would normally be meeting and greeting thousands of our producers over a cup of tea and a beef sandwich on our stands at this time of year. This podcast is one way of staying connected to important topics that are impacting us all in the farming community at this time.”

Karen Patterson is joined in Episode One by a variety of guests in a frank conversation about farm accidents. She conducts an emotional interview with two survivors and the lead paramedic for the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance whose task it is to respond to such traumatic scenes.

Episode two, out later in the month, considers future education and jobs for teenagers interested in working in agri-food and the opportunities to get ahead in an increasingly competitive environment.Episode three will focus on mental health and wellbeing by exploring the impact of isolation during the pandemic on the rural community. The podcast can be downloaded on podcast apps or watched on You Tube.

Further information on Rural Support can be found on their website at and its helpline is available at 0800 138 1678 Monday to Friday 9am – 9pm with other options available 24/7.