The Health and Safety Authority has said it is concerned there could be a spike in child fatalities on Irish farms this year.

The authority, which investigates all workplace fatalities, said that more children are on farms due to school closures amid Covid-19 restrictions, which means there could be an increased risk.

In recent weeks there have been a number of farm fatalities, including a five-year-old boy who died on his family's farm in Co Roscommon. 

HSA inspector Pat Griffin said: "Farms are by far the most dangerous places of work in Ireland that we are concerned about this year, in that we may get a spike in child deaths in 2020".

He said people usually involved in off-farm work are now around the farm more often, and children are also off school, which means the risk of injury is greatly increased by both inexperienced adults and unaware children.

Mr Griffin also said that the most vulnerable people are young children and older adults. Last year 13 of the 18 people who were killed on Irish farms were aged over 60.

Mr Griffin said: "We would appeal to farmers to please, please look at child safety, children are at home for an extended period of time and may want to get out and down the yard. We would appeal to farmers to go down the yard with their children, look at the risks and eliminate them if possible."

Meanwhile one of Ireland's Paralympian hopefuls has spoken about the farm injury which left her paralysed from the waist down after she fell from a tractor when she was six. 

Para archer Kerrie Leonard

Para archer, Kerrie Leonard from Co Meath, said the accident occurred in 1997 when she fell out of a tractor, which then went over her legs. She said it was a "freak" accident.

"Everyone was very vigilant with there being children on the farm, it was just one of those things that happened." 

Ms Leonard said people need to be constantly aware of the dangers on farms.

"You could do something ten times and nine times out of ten it will be fine, and it is the tenth time there will be an issue.

"That can be because of complacency or just a freak of nature. At the moment it is even more significant given that there are a lot more children on farms ".

Embrace Farm is a charity which offers assistance to people hurt on farms, or the families of those who have died.