NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Disability on Irish farms - a real concern.

Whelan S; Ruane DJ; McNamara J; Kinsella A; McNamara A
J Agromedicine 2009 Apr; 14(2):157-163
Farmers operate within hazardous environments while conducting their day-to-day tasks, potentially resulting in injury or disability. Disability can serve as a major life-changing event for the farmer, the farm family, and the farm business. In Ireland, the agricultural sector reported the highest incidence of disability, yet there is relatively little known on the impact of agricultural-based disability. In 2007, a questionnaire was appended to the Teagasc (Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority) National Farm Survey to obtain some metric of the prevalence and impact of disability on Irish farms, in addition to quantifying service/support requirements of farm operators experiencing disability. Almost 5.9% (approximately 6611) of Irish farm operators reported disability, primarily caused through illness/disease. Arthritis (31.4%), back problems (17%), and heart circulatory problems (12.5%) were most frequently reported. The lowest prevalence of disability was found among tillage (1.4%) and dairy (4.1%) farms, with the highest prevalence among cattle farms (7.1%). Family farm income was lower on disability-experiencing farms relative to nondisability farms (€123 per hectare), with a lower participation in off-farm employment also identified. Many farm operators (approximately 20%) ceased off-farm employment following disability. Discontinuation of off-farm employment can further precipitate family farm income decline, but also place additional pressures on the farm business if quality services/supports are not available. The current provision of services/supports to farm operators experiencing disability is perceived largely insufficient across the entire service/ support spectrum from when disability was first experienced through to retirement. Awareness and issues surrounding eligibility were the primary reasons for failing to avail of currently available service/supports.
Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Animal-husbandry-workers; Demographic-characteristics; Disabled-workers; Environmental-factors; Families; Farmers; Health-care; Injuries; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-hazards; Quantitative-analysis; Questionnaires; Risk-analysis; Safety-practices; Statistical-analysis; Work-environment; Author Keywords: Disability; farm operator; services; supports
Shane Whelan, BAgrSc, School of Agriculture, Food Science, and Veterinary Medicine, Agriculture and Food Science Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Journal of Agromedicine
Performing Organization
Marshfield Clinic
Page last reviewed: May 13, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division