Farm deaths put stain on workplace safety figures

By Gem Childe on 9th Jan 2017

Irish Farming

The Health and Safety Authority has released a report which highlights that 44 people were killed in 2016 compared with 56 in 2015 - a 21 per cent reduction.

However, the number of deaths on farms remained high, with 21 reported in 2016, compared with 18 in 2015. Construction fatalities were down from 11 to nine.

Martin O’Halloran, chief executive of the HSA, said: “We welcome the reduction in the number of work-related fatalities last year, the lowest number since 2009. It is especially important that as the numbers at work increase, accident rates are moving in the opposite direction.

"Nevertheless we must not forget the many families that experienced devastation and tragedy in 2016. It was a time when they lost loved ones due to events that should have been prevented.”

The number of deaths related to fishing were also reduced down to three in 2016 from five in 2015 and the transportation and storage sector had one fatality compared to four in 2015.

Accidents involving vehicles accounted for nearly half (20) of all fatalities in 2016, across all sectors.

The county with the highest number of fatalities in 2016 was Cork with eight reported, followed by Kerry and Meath with four each. The majority of work-related deaths (30) involved 25-65 year old males. However, there were nine men over 65 killed in the agriculture sector.

Martin O’Halloran added: “The vast majority of sectors experienced a reduction in fatalities last year. However, it is clear that there is a systemic problem with safety on our farms.

"For the last seven years the agriculture sector has recorded the highest number of fatalities. Safety must become an integral part of farming culture, rather than an afterthought.”