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Ray Doyle, Livestock & Environmental Services Executive

The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) has urged mart-goers to embrace and support the safety measures being implemented on an ongoing basis by marts across Ireland.

The ICOS comments also follow an unfortunate accident which took place recently at Mohill Mart, Co. Leitrim, in which a man was injured by a bull.

ICOS has strongly commended the ‘exemplary response’ by Aurivo Co-operative who immediately closed their marts at Mohill, Balla, Ballinrobe and Ballymote for a safety review following this incident.

“Everyone was very upset to hear of this distressing accident.  It’s always important to figure out how something like this could have happened and also to take any measures necessary to avoid a recurrence. Aurivo and other marts who closed their operations for a review were acting correctly, responsibly and in the best interests of everyone involved in livestock farming.

“Over the past number of months, marts have been implementing extra measures to further reduce health and safety risks. All ICOS mart drovers already receive professional training in livestock management including health and safety. We are also providing additional training for our staff along with safety information, new signage and announcements re-advising patrons that safety comes first. It is a mutual concern that everyone must work together collectively to address.

“It will also need to involve keeping mart visitors and livestock apart from each other while preserving the enjoyable quality of the mart day experience. This may include restricted access to livestock delivery points, closing off passageways and the establishment of gantries and bridges to allow for safe viewing of livestock, depending on the size of the mart involved.

“At the end of the day, it’s a matter of establishing an appropriate balance. Everyone appreciates the necessity to avoid accidents. We also cannot afford the level of insurance premiums which we currently see spiralling in cost as insurers seek to minimise their risk and cover their exposure to liability.  We need to reduce the risk and reduce the cost.

“We will be seeking a collective and co-ordinated response across the marts sector to ensure that no single mart will be disadvantaged as a result of any measures which need to be adopted.  This will require a level of Government support and incentivisation and measures to control the rising cost of insurance.

“The cost of insurance for marts has more than doubled in the past 18 months but there hasn’t been a particular jump in incidents or claims arising from marts and, realistically, we don’t see a legitimate basis for the scale of insurance costs currently being projected into the marts sector.”

A delegation from ICOS Marts met last month with Minister of State Michael D’Arcy T.D. to seek Government intervention on the spiralling cost of insurance for marts.

The delegation welcomed Minister D’Arcy’s assurance that over 30 recommendations in a recently published insurance working group report on Employment Liability Practices would be enacted. However, ICOS emphasised that any new regulations or orders must be placed on a priority list given the backlog of legislation currently being progressed through the Dáil.

ICOS represents over 130 co-operatives in Ireland – including the Irish dairy processing co-operatives and livestock marts – whose associated businesses have a combined turnover in the region of €14 billion, with some 150,000 individual members, employing 12,000 people in Ireland, and a further 24,000 people overseas.

Tags: Health & Safety, ICOS, Mart Safety