Page last updated at 12:10 GMT, Thursday, 29 November 2012

Enterprise Committee

There has been a considerable rise in farm fatalities in 2012 compared to previous years, a DUP MLA said on 29 November 2012.

Stephen Moutray said it was worrying that the number of deaths was increasing.

He made the comments during an Enterprise Committee meeting where representatives from the Health and Safety Executive of Northern Ireland (HSENI) spoke on their campaign aimed at cutting the number of accidents on farms.

It was launched by at the beginning of November.

Since April 2007, 42 people in Northern Ireland have been killed as a direct result of agricultural activities.

The main dangers are listed as slurry, animals, falls and equipment (SAFE).

Dr Bryan Monson from the HSENI said safety visits would be made to more than 1,000 farms between November and the end of March 2013 in a bid to address the rise in fatalities.

He referred specifically to the dangers surrounding slurry tanks and said guidelines had been issued to improve safety in this area.

Dr Monson said he was not convinced monitors would offer protection as by the time a person reacted, the levels may already be too great, and there was a cost implication as they required frequent calibration.

He also said, from experience, the monitors were extremely sensitive and went off consistently and therefore farmers failed to see it as a warning.

Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, his brother Graham, and father Noel, were killed in September when they were overcome by slurry gas.

The committee then continued its session with HSE representatives with a discussion of the Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).

The regulations require employers to inform HSE of any accident causing an employee to be off sick for more than three days.

Mark Pinkerton of the HSE explained that the regulations in Great Britain had altered the requirement to seven days.

He said the minister was now proposing to make the same change in Northern Ireland.

Committee chairman Patsy McGlone said he would have some concerns about the proposal.

Mr McGlone said the NIPSA trade union had argued that the proposals were in breach of European law.

Mark Pinkerton said it was not contrary to European law.

Enterprise committee membership

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