Livestock marts in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) have introduced safety procedures, which will see farmers banned from the lairage areas during set times.
The moves come at a time when the Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA) in the UK is stepping up health and safety procedures following livestock-related accidents, though executive secretary Chris Dodds says there are no plans to prevent farmers from viewing stock.
See also: How to handle livestock safely Academy
- 15% of fatal injuries on farm are cause by livestock
- On average, four or five workers and members of the public are killed in accidents involving cattle each year
- Last year, a cattle handler was killed after being crushed by a bull at Gisburn Auction Mart
Source. Health and Safety Executive
Ten marts in ROI brought in the new safety arrangements in mid-April, including four sites operated by Aurivo Co-op.
The move was triggered after a farmer was seriously injured by a bull at Aurivo’s Mohill Mart at the start of April.
The main restrictions include where farmers can walk when cattle are moving about in the lairage.
Many marts plan to allow safe viewing times when cattle are booked in and placed securely in pens, but before the sale commences.
At Roscommon market, staff have been positioned at the entrance gate to the lairage to prevent farmers from entering after the sale has started. Other marts have also ordered security gates which will only be opened by staff swipe cards.
Other changes include attention to the loading and unloading of cattle at lairage gates and regular training by staff to improve knowledge of health and safety and animal behaviour.
According to Mr Dodds, the LAA is also in the process of rolling out a health and safety course for drovers.
He said: “Livestock are wild animals and we have got to respect them. We’ve got to be conscious of how they will react and their behavioural habits.
“Unfortunately, the livestock sector has been subject to some terrible livestock-related accidents. That’s why we are in the process of developing a drover handling course.”
Mr Dodds said there was “no intention” to restricting farmers from viewing stock and said there was a balance to be had to meet farmers’ needs and health and safety.
“A lot of farmers want to make sure their stock looks its best before sale and for some farmers who don’t have adequate handling facilities at home, that means using the facilities at market to prepare stock for selling.
“We need to have sensible protocols in place and to mitigate the chances of an accident happening, due to animals getting unruly,” he said.