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ICOS, the Irish Co-operative organisation Society, is the Umbrella body for Agricultural and Rural Co-operatives in Ireland. Its members operate in areas such as dairy processing and marketing, to livestock marts, to agri trading and farm services to group water schemes, and they range in turnovers from as low as thousands to several billions. ICOS has 130 members, representing a combined membership of 150,000 farmers and rural dwellers.

Accordingly, ICOS has been extremely concerned at the ongoing high level of farm accidents, resulting in 30 deaths in 2014, and in countless debilitating injuries.

It is also concerning that the dairy sector, in which co-ops are most active, should suffer disproportionately from farm accidents. Of the 120,000 farms in the Republic of Ireland, only 17 per cent are dairy farms. Yet those farms account for 57 per cent of farm deaths. This is probably due to the intensive nature of yard based operations on dairy farms, featuring the three high risk areas of machinery, livestock, and slurry. An analysis of the fatal accident statistics from 2014 indicates that the majority of the incidents seem to have been preventable, and were perhaps a result of farmers operating under pressure, “in a rush”, and perhaps taking risks or shortcuts in order to get the job done. No accident was pre-ordained, they were all preventable, a moment’s thought would have prevented all of the needless suffering.

Therefore, all stakeholders have a responsibility to ensure that farmers can take that moment to think, to take the appropriate steps to prevent such accidents.

ICOS and its member dairy co-ops have been collaborating with FBD insurance to raise farmer awareness of safety issues, and to communicate with them the dangers associated with their everyday operations. We have already hosted FBD presentations at co-op advisor meetings, to raise awareness at that level, and together we have developed the FBD ICOS and Co-ops “Champions for Change” Campaign. The campaign aims to leverage the co-ops communications channels and influence with farmers to encourage them to think more seriously about farm safety, and to make the changes to their own behaviour to allow them to manage risks.

Key components of the FBD, ICOS and Co-op’s “Champions for Change” campaign.

The dairy co-op campaign will focus on the “Milk Suppliers” and the “Co-op Retail Stores”.

FBD, ICOS & Co-op’s at National Level

  • Launch of Campaign in Late February to Mid March
  • Media & Ad Campaign
  • Farm Safety Leaflet to be distributed true all mechanisms promoting the campaign
  • Regional Safety Meeting
  • Promotion of the “National Farm Safety Weeks” which will run from 13th to 24th April 2015
  • Ideally promotion of the campaign on the milk tankers by displaying the co-op and Champions for Change logos
  • A farm safety link should be placed on the ICOS and each co-op’s website which promotes the campaign and gives farms easy access to practical farm safety information

Milk Suppliers

After the launch, a farm safety pack is to be sent to every milk supplier. The pack will be branded with the FBD and ICOS logos, and there will be a space on each pack to allow the local co-op to place a sticker of their logo on the pack. The packs will supplied by FBD and distributed by co-op’s. The pack will contain key farm safety information for dairy farmers.

  •  Safety Pack
  1. Farm Safety “Champions for Change” wrist bands
  2. “Always Think Safety First” booklet
  3. “Building in Safety” booklet
  4. “Staying Fit for Farming” booklet
  5. “Survivor Stories” DVD
  6. “Safe Handling of Cattle on Farms” Information Sheet
  7. A leaflet supplied by the HSA which will promote “Farm Safety Risk Assessment Training”
  •  Quarterly farm safety information leaflets / newsletters to be issued by each Co-op member (seasonal issues to be addressed). (FBD will help write content for these quarterly information leaflets. Leaflets to be co-branded).
  • Dairy advisors should be encouraged to highlight hazardous observed and promote farm safety when visiting farms.

Retail Co-ops

  • A 6 x 4 ft safety sign will be place at the entrance to all retail shops. This sign will give farmers a strong but simple farm safety message. The sign will also carry the ICOS and Champions for Change logos. This sign will be supplied by FBD.
  • Safety Posters & Leaflets to promote farm safety placed within each store.
  • Promotion of the “National Farm Safety Weeks” which will run from 13th to 24th April 2015.  As part of this promotion there will be special offers on safety equipment and PPE in each co-op store.