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HSE responds to Farmers Weekly letter - 'Health and safety is a national joke'

30 March 2010

Dear Editor,

Re: Letters: "Health and safety is a national joke" - 26 March 2010

It may come as a surprise to Dr O'Conor (26 March), but I, and the Health and Safety Executive, share her views on the need for a common sense approach to health and safety. Children shouldn't be wrapped in cotton wool. We survive and develop by learning how to deal with risk. It's about ensuring it's managed where it can be, not eliminated.

What is concerning is that too many farmers are putting themselves at risk unnecessarily. Agriculture represents only 1.5 per cent of the workforce, but accounts for 20 per cent of work-related deaths each year - on average nearly one death every week.

Although it may not be to her taste, I can assure Dr O'Conor that the 'Make the Promise' campaign has struck a chord with a large number of farmers and their families. 29,000 farmers have signed up since the launch and it is supported by the NFU and the National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs, amongst others.

A number of farmers who have suffered life-changing injuries from farm accidents, as well as bereaved families, have been advocates of the campaign and more than willing to tell their stories (see

Yours faithfully,

Judith Donovan,
HSE board member for agriculture

Updated 2010-08-10