Attacks by Animals have been identified as one of the key and leading sources of fatal and non fatal claims in farm accidents
The study was carried out in the Republic of Ireland but the implications for UK Heallth and Safety on Farms is significant.
Traditionally in the UK the leading source of concern in respect of Workplace Health and Safety in the Farm Setting is the dangerous equipment and difficulties in regulating work which is carried out over a wide area and which also is carried out in hours that are outside the norm
Animal attacks are therefore a new variant on farm workplace hazards. The Study in the Republic of Ireland examined all farm related morbidity and mortality which was presented to the casualty department of the local hospital between 2005 and 2011. It showed that there were a total of seven deaths as a direct result of farm accidents in that period.
The surprising additional finding was that more than half of the deaths were related to livestock. The others were due to what was normally accepted as the more common accidents due to defective or improperly used machinery, falls from a height and the fall of a heavy object.
The consultant surgeon who carried out the research at Mayo General Hospital indicated that the primary focus of the study was to find out the cause and severity of injuries on farm workers. This surprising finding was one that he believed needed to be highlighted as the magnitude of the injuries that could be caused by livestock needed to be more widely appreciated.
Whilst this study is not necessarily directly comparable to the United Kingdom which has a less rural and more urban population density nevertheless the results of this survey may have significance in focusing the Health and Safety Executive to potentially re-evaluate the nature and severity of farm workplace injuries and fatalities in the UK from livestock rather than the more normally expected farm accident types.
The author of the study also called for a greater awareness to be fostered about farm safety within the farming community – a call that also should echo in the United Kingdom where the responsibility for enforcing and regulating such incidents falls predominantly on the Health and Safety Executive. From the information that can be gleaned from the data obtained from RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995) such information could potentially be collated to prevent farm workplace accidents in the future.