Amie Connan from ABP’s Agricultural Team with John Buckley, winner of the ABP Farm Safety Award at BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2023. Photo: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

Bandon student wins farm safety award

A student from Bandon has been announced as the overall winner of the ABP Farm Safety Award.

John Buckley from Hamilton High School won the award at the recent 2023 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) for his innovative project, ‘Investigation of a prototype tool belt to prevent musculoskeletal injuries in vets’.

John impressed judges with his innovative and forward-thinking project, which aims to reduce repetitive stress disorders in vets, namely reducing shoulder pain and injuries through a new design for a vet’s tool belt. John entered his project in the intermediate age group, which is open to 3rd and 4th years.

During the course of his project, John carried out research which revealed shoulder issues in 59% of 114 vets surveyed. The unnatural motion of removing tools from a standard vet’s belt, located around the waist, particularly in the course of repetitive tasks such as TB testing, is a likely contributor to shoulder pain and injuries in vets. John’s newly designed vet tool belt, which is located around the thigh, will allow for minimised shoulder and arm movements, ensuring a quicker and more ergonomic action when reaching for the belt.

John field tested his new belt with a local veterinary clinic, who reported it was “much easier to use”, “definitely minimises shoulder movement”, and that they “will continue to use the belt from now on”.

Aodhán McEntee, a specialist physiotherapist, believes John’s belt may reduce the risk of rotator cuff overuse injuries.

For the 9th consecutive year, ABP Food Group has sponsored the Farm Safety category, which year-on-year has produced ground-breaking projects from students across the country.

The area of farm safety is a priority for ABP, and it is an issue that is still prevalent in Ireland today. In 2022, 12 people in the farming sector were killed in work-related accidents according to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), accounting for 46% of all Irish workplace related deaths during the year.

Amie Coonan from ABP’s Agricultural Team, said: “On behalf of ABP, I would like to sincerely congratulate John on his innovative project, which has deservedly been recognised with this year’s Farm Safety Award. He has demonstrated true innovation and creativity in his impressive project and should be very proud of this accomplishment.

“I would like to thank all of the entrants who put forward projects this year. It has been truly inspiring to witness the amazing things that Ireland’s young people are capable of, and it has been very impressive to see how many of them are interested in seeking solutions for a major societal issue like farm safety.”