Seminar on farm occupational health

Helath and safety on Irish farms has been highlighted in recent years. Now Teagasc has begun to highlight the occupational health of those who work on farms, with a focus on the health affects of this work.

Helath and safety on Irish farms has been highlighted in recent years. Now Teagasc has begun to highlight the occupational health of those who work on farms, with a focus on the health affects of this work.

At a recently held seminar it was revealed that farmers are one of the main groups who avail of hip replacement operations.

Teagasc, in association with the Health and Safety Authority and University College Dublin, held a national seminar on improving occupational health among farmers in Ireland. The event took place in Athy, last Tuesday (August 21) and was followed in the afternoon by a seminar on Positive Mental Health of Farmers.

At the seminar, Ms Aoife Osborne, Teagasc Walsh Fellow, revealed the findings of her four-year research study on farmer occupational health. Ms Osborne deals particularly with musculoskeletal disorders, or diseases of the skeletal and muscular systems, which are increasingly a major source of disability and incapacitation among farmers in Ireland and worldwide. One international study, for instance, estimates that farmers are one of the main users of hip replacements with 20 per cent of farmers requiring one in their lifetime.

Further presentations on occupational health of farmers were provided by physiotherapists Dr Catherine Blake and Dr Caitriona Cunningham of the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Performance Science at UCD.

Mr Patrick Griffin, Senior Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority (H.S.A.) spoke about the risk assessment approach to preventing occupational ill health, while Mr John McNamara, Teagasc Health and Safety Officer, then outlined the Teagasc programme in occupational health.

In the afternoon a seminar on Positive Mental Health of Farmers was be held.

Speakers included Dr Anne Cleary, from the Department of Sociology at UCD, who spoke to the seminar about the findings of a study of suicidal behaviour among men in rural areas, which is aimed at prevention. Ms Finola Colgan of Mental Health Ireland followed with a talk on Positively Influencing Mental Health.