Teaching young people good work habits with the aim of preventing accidents on farms.

A group of teenagers are attending classes run by Farm Relief Services (FRS) to learn the correct way how to drive and operate a tractor.  It is not an exam subject, but it's just as important as any on the school curriculum.  According to trainer Jim Dockery, if young people are driving tractors, then they need to be educated about them at the earliest opportunity, 

It is very important that we give the message across to them, that they need to be able to operate the controls number one, and that they need to learn the habits as young as possible because that way at least it will stick with them.

Tommy Hogan from Borrisokane learned his lesson the hard way when he was just 14.  His hand caught under the hitch at the back of a tractor, and he lost two fingers, 

Rushing I suppose, to get the thing done, like, that’s more or less I suppose how it happened me. Not taking my time, and not seeing the danger.

Farms are workplaces, and also playgrounds for many young children.  According to Frank Laffey, National Health and Safety Officer, Teagasc, the statistics sadly show that children are killed on farms every year, 

Primarily they’re involved in slurry tanks, they’re involved with falling off tractors, and also getting entangled up in machinery.

For adults, the farmyard can be equally treacherous. One of the greatest dangers is an uncovered PTO shaft on a tractor.  At full speed, a PTO shaft is rotating seventeen times a second, and will drag anything lose that is near into it. The advice is to keep the shaft covered.  

John McDonald lucky to have survived an accident with a PTO shaft on his farm,   

It took all the clothes off me and fired me into the slurry tank. The pain was just that bad at the time that I didn’t even realise that I had lost the leg.

Teagasc are advising all farmers to produce a safety statement and to invest in proper safety measures. There will be an inital cost, but they point out, the greater cost of an accident is not just the loss of income, but possibly the loss of life.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 9 April 2003.  The reporter is Anne Marie Smyth.