A BRAVE farmer, who lost a leg and suffered several other serious injuries in a near-fatal work accident 13 years ago, has pleaded for improved safety conditions on Irish farms.
Peter Gohery, 54, was repairing a feeder attached to his tractor on his 90-acre farm just outside Balinasloe, Galway, when a loose piece of his overalls got caught in the machine.
He said he lost his leg below the knee, spending two months in hospital, followed by 16 weeks learning to walk again at the National Rehabilitation Centre.
But he is grateful to be alive after the October 2009 accident and now dedicates his life to trying to improve safety on the farm.
He told the Irish Sun: “I felt absolutely nothing when it happened, no pain. Just that my left leg wasn’t touching the ground. I was just more worried about my 10 year old son being nearby.
“My wife wouldn’t put me on my back in case I had spinal injuries. The ambulance took half an hour to get here because there were no GPS or Eircodes at the time, and only two ambulances serving the whole Ballinsloe area.
“I just remember my wife saying to me, ‘Don’t die for me.’
“I was taken to Portiuncula Hospital, where they tried to put the bones in my right ankle back in place and I absolutely rocked the place.
“I was then moved to University Hospital Galway and discharged on December 23. I moved to Dublin in February for a 16 week rehabilitation course so I learned to walk twice. “
A father of four, Peter, who was 42 at the time of the crash, later went back to college and completed a four-year health and safety course and now works as a safety inspector on a building, ahead reduce operations. on his tillage farm, which is looked after by one of his sons.
He said an estimated 2,000 people die each year on farms across Europe, although no one keeps the data.
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The Department of Agriculture does not have a system in place if you are injured on a farm and safety practices are well below standard.
He said: ‘In New Zealand if you have an accident on a farm you are fully medically supported until the day you die. The only problem is that you are not allowed to sue your employer.
“In Ireland we don’t have anything like that. It’s a joke. There are also people who give lectures on health and safety, who have gone to university and obtained degrees and doctorates, but who have never worked a day on a farm in their life.
“It was lucky and all it takes is the government to implement such a program, but apparently it’s too expensive. The cost of this is greater than a life.
“I travel everywhere giving talks on health and safety. I was recently in Wales and also lectured to construction workers in New York and they are all fascinated to hear what I experienced.
“But that’s who should be trained to give those talks and improve health and safety, there just isn’t a collective that will.”
Peter said that in 2014 32 people were killed on farms in Ireland. So far this year there have been six, but one life is one too many.
He added: “It’s getting better but we can still do more. There’s even a proper record of how workplace accidents happen every year on farms because farms just get the questionnaire and tick that there were none, but their wife will tell you another story.
“After what happened to me, I dedicated my life to making sure others didn’t go through this, but I’m lucky, I know that. There are many other families across Ireland and the world who have not.
SAFETY ON THE FARM
“Just because Farm Safety Week is over doesn’t mean we can forget about it until next year. There are 52 weeks in the year.
The Irish Farmer’s Association says farms are still the most dangerous places to work in Ireland.
Minister of State for Farm Safety Martin Heydon said his main message to farmers was “that they are the only irreplaceable asset on their farms”.
He said, “Without them, there is no farm.”
Speaking of the six deaths, Mr Heyon added: “It’s six too many, six families and communities who have suffered incredible losses and what we want to do is reduce the number of fatal and life-changing incidents. life on our farms.”
IFA chairman Tim Cullinan said that at present “farms are the most dangerous place to work in Ireland and that must change”.
The Health and Safety Authority said there had been 197 deaths on Irish farms in the past ten years, including 10 in 2021 and 20 the year before. Some 44% of fatalities involved vehicles and machinery and 19% involved livestock.
Vehicles and machinery account for 50% of farm fatalities, with the elderly and children at greater risk.