The Irish Farmers' Association is asking all farmers to set time aside to review safety on their farms as Ireland marks its first National Farm Safety Awareness Day.

Fourteen lives have been lost in farm accidents so far this year, a 70% increase on this time last year.

The main causes of fatalities are tractors, machinery and drowning.

The fatality rate in agriculture is far higher than in any other economic sector, accounting for almost 40% of workplace deaths last year.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said "farming continues to be the most dangerous occupation in Ireland, with an average of 20 fatalities per year over the past four years".

He welcomed the IFA initiative, which is being supported by the Health and Safety Authority.  

Last year 16 people, including four children, died as a result of farm accidents.

Mr Coveney said "a farmyard can seem like a playground to a child's eyes particularly during the summer holiday months. However, children can't be expected to anticipate the dangers of playing there."  

Noting that farms were both homes and work places, Mr Coveney said parents need to see potential dangers and set ground rules for children on farms.

"Great care is required to ensure that tragic accidents do not occur. One of the first steps in helping to achieve a safe farm is for farmers to adhere to the Farm Safety Code of practice and to review their Farm Risk Assessment," he remarked. 

Labour TD Michael McCarthy also welcomed the initiative, saying "today is an opportunity for farmers to dedicate a bit of time to thinking about health and safety on their farms, to identify potential dangers, and to consider ways to minimise risks".