56 people killed in workplace accidents last year

A total of 56 people were killed in workplace accidents reported to the Health and Safety Authority last year, according to new reports.

The HSA yesterday published its annual report for 2015 and Statistic Summary for 2014-2015, and revealed that there was one workplace death more reported to the authority last year compared to 2014.

The report has shown that the number of inspections and investigations carried out by the HSA has fallen more than 40% since its peak in 2009, a decline its chairman has attributed to “resource issues”. Last year the HSA carried out 10,880 inspections and investigations, compared to the 18,451 it conducted in 2009.

“Over recent years our ability to complete some of our programmes has been restricted due to resource issues,” Michael Horgan, chairman of the HSA, said.

“We have made ‘efficiencies’ in how we carry out inspection field work and are now moving into a period where we can further improve our service to the working people of the country,” he said.

The HSA Statistic Summary found that the self- employed are most at risk of dying as a result of an accident in the workplace.

“In the case of fatal injuries, those most at risk continue to be the self- employed, particularly in the agricultural, forestry and fishing industries,” the report read.

“Statistical analysis has shown that between 2004 and 2013, the fatality rate increased for workers in agriculture, decreased for those in the service sector, and did not significantly change for those in construction or industry,” it said.

The HSA said the highest number of workplace fatalities occurred in the agriculture sector, where 18 people lost their lives, a decrease on 2014. “Agriculture-related fatalities decreased from 30 in 2014 to 18 in 2015 and that is welcome,” Martin O’Halloran, HSA chief executive said.

“Another positive development has been the increased level of engagement from within the sector. I have always believed that the best people to implement change are farmers themselves, we saw evidence of that last year and we will be looking to build on it into the future,” he said.

The HSA said its national programme of farm inspections found that 82% of farms had a safe play area for children, 80% addressed the involvement of elderly farmers in farming activity, 58% had safe facilities for calving, 57% had safe slurry handling facilities, and tractor handbrakes were serviced in 57% of cases.

Furthermore, there were 7,775 non-fatal injuries reported to the HSA last year, 7,443 (96%) of which involved workers, while the remaining 332 involved members of the public, including family members.

The total number is an increase of 344 on 2014’s injuries, and the largest number of non-fatal injury reports to the HSA last year came from the health and social work sector (1,490).

The annual report also found there were “key issues of concern” arising from the 207 inspections and 25 investigations carried out at mines under occupational safety and health legislation in these sectors.

Officials noted inadequate guarding of conveyors, crushers and screeners, no emergency stop/pull-wire on conveyors, no visual aids on front-end loader or dumper, poor brake testing or tyre maintenance, no QSCS cards for plant operators and no or inadequate safety statements as areas for concern.

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