Farmer dies after TB testing Print this pagePrint this page

Handling cattle is a risky business and many injuries go unreported. However, deaths have to be reported. In April 2010, sadly, an 80-year-old farmer died after he was injured by a bullock on his Co Longford farm during a TB test. The incident caused deep shock in the close-knit community of his home. His death brings to 10 the number of deaths on farms in the State from January to April 2010, only one less than in the whole of 2009. The man was named as Frank Kiernan from Moyne, north Longford, Ireland. He was rushed to the Regional Midlands Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Health and Safety Authority are investigating the death.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is well aware of the risks and has issued advice regarding handling cattle. However, little has been done to reduce the need for cattle handling and with the current programme of TB testing demanding more and more frequent testing, these serious risks are being ignored as government's strive for the impossible eradication of bovine TB. The skin test poses real health and safety risks for farmers. About one third of fatalities on farms involve livestock. Constant testing has signifiant health and safety risks that would not be tolerated in any other sector.

The following advice is from the HSE website (

Cattle - what are the risks? Handling cattle always involves a risk of injury from crushing, kicking, butting or goring. The risk is greater if the animals have not been handled frequently, such as those from hills or moorland, sucklers or newly calved cattle. Certain jobs may increase the risk, eg veterinary work. Attempting to carry out stock tasks on unrestrained cattle or with makeshift equipment is particularly hazardous. Never underestimate the risk from cattle, even with good precautions in place.

Cattle - the race Animals should be able to readily enter the race, which should have a funnel end. Make sure there is enough room in the collecting pen for them to feed into the funnel easily. A circular collecting pen means workers can stand safely behind a forcing gate as they move animals into the race, and keep the animals moving. Animals need to see clearly to the crush and beyond, so that they will readily move along the race. The race may be curved, but should not include tight turns. Animals prefer to move towards a light area than into the dark. The sides of the race should be high enough to prevent animals from jumping over them ; secure them properly secured to the ground and to each other for maximum strength. Sheet the sides of the race to help keep cattle moving by reducing visual disturbances such as shadows and other animals. Contain the lead animal in the race while it waits its turn to enter the crush. Hinged or sliding doors are suitable, make sure you operate them f rom the working side of the race. Never work on an animal in the crush with an unsecured animal waiting in the race behind.

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