Teagasc to lead largest EU Farm Safety Project ever funded

The European Union (EU) has awarded a group led by Teagasc €5 million in funding to develop and test farm safety solutions. The landmark SafeHabitus project was launched on Thursday, 15 December 2022 in Teagasc Ashtown by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon T.D.

Teagasc to lead largest EU Farm Safety Project ever funded
A new €5 million EU funded SafeHabitus project was launched on Thursday, 15 December 2022 in Teagasc Ashtown by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Martin Heydon T.D. Pictured discussing the SafeHabitus project with Minister Heydon were Dr David Meredith (Project Leader), Dr John G McNamara (Work Package Leader) Dr Maeve Henchion (Scientific Advisory Board Member), Teagasc

The project, a Horizon Europe Innovation Action being co-ordinated by Dr David Meredith at Teagasc, focuses on

  • Developing communities of farm safety practice across the EU;
  • Improving the understanding and awareness by policy makers, farmers organisations, trade unions and health authorities of farmers’ and farm workers’ health and safety at work;
  • Exploring the potential of corporate social responsibility initiatives and bottom up innovations that enhance farmer and farm worker health and safety;
  • Developing recommendations for better performing European and national policy, and governance frameworks favouring safer and more inclusive working environments for farmers and farm workers.

The SafeHabitus project kicks-off in January 2023 and will run for four years. It involves 20 leading academic and industry teams across 12 European countries.

Minister Heydon, who has responsibility for Farm Safety and Research & Innovation congratulated the Teagasc-led group and its co-ordinator Dr David Meredith on being awarded the research funding for the four-year project.

Minister Heydon said: “This research funding recognises the leading role that Ireland, through its researchers and research institutions, is playing in efforts to improve farmer health and safety, not only in here but across the EU. Farm safety is one of the most critical and social sustainability issues facing farming today. To have a sustainable agricultural sector, everyone working and living on farms must be kept safe. This project is another important step towards improving farmer safety and health by empowering farmers to change unsafe practices and adopt new, safer and healthier ways of working.

Minister Heydon highlighted the important role previous research funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine played in securing this Horizon Europe grant: “The 2017 project, ‘Be Safe, funded by my Department supported work for the development of a safety programme to increase machine and livestock related safety on farms. It provided a platform for the researchers to build on, and secure this new EU funding and affirms the crucial role of capacity building research by my Department.”

Professor Pat Dillon, Director of Research in Teagasc, said; “Building the sustainability of farming in Ireland is at the core of Teagasc’ strategy and the farmer health and safety are at the centre of social sustainability. With strong industry involvement from the outset the SafeHabitus project will develop and test practical farm safety initiatives that can be used to support the adoption of safer farming practice. This is critical to improving the social sustainability of farming across the EU and making farming an attractive career for future generations of farmers.

Speaking at the announcement of the SafeHabitus Project in Teagasc Ashtown, Dr David Meredith, Teagasc, said; “When we were developing the project we wanted to take what we learnt in Ireland, particularly the importance of working closely with farmers, advisors, industry, regulators and policy makers, and replicate that across Europe. This gives us a platform to do that, show what we have learnt and, more importantly, to learn about farm safety from our partners in different countries and test these approaches with farmers and farm advisors in Ireland.”

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