Agriculture still most dangerous job but death toll falls

Cork had the highest number of workplace-related deaths last year — as the number of agriculture related fatalities fell by 40%.

Figures released by the Health and Safety Authority show that 55 people were killed in workplace-related accidents last year — the same number as in 2014.

Cork had the highest number of workplace deaths last year with 10 people losing their lives, followed by Donegal (6) and Galway (5).

Agriculture remains the sector with the highest number of workplace deaths, but the number has fallen 40%, with 18 deaths reported in 2015 compared to 30 in 2014.

However, construction fatalities increased from eight in 2014 to 11 in 2015 and the fishing sector also saw an increase from one in 2014 to five in 2015.

Incidents involving vehicles were the main cause of fatal workplace accidents, accounting for 21 of the total. A total of 15 people died as a result of falls from a height, the second most common cause of death. Two thirds of work-related deaths (37 of 55) occurred in businesses with fewer than 10 employees, mainly in agriculture, construction, and fishing.

There were four child fatalities in 2015, all of which occurred in agriculture. The youngest child was just two years old and died after being struck by a falling object in an incident in Cork.

Brian Higgisson, assistant chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), welcomed the reduction of the agriculture-related deaths but said it remained the most dangerous occupation. “All work-related deaths are tragic and while we must cautiously welcome the reduction in agriculture fatalities, it is still the most dangerous occupation and that needs to change.

“There are high levels of safety and health awareness in Irish workplaces and we must ensure that this translates to changes in behaviour and fewer accidents in all the sectors this year.”

Last summer, the HSA wrote to all primary school principals in the country asking them to make sure the last message they gave children before the summer break relates to farm safety.

Farm accidents have claimed the lives of 23 children in the last decade and the HSA have pointed out that farms remain the only workplace where children still continue to die.

Mr Higgisson said that along with the agriculture and construction sectors, there will also be an emphasis on work-related health risks in 2016.

“We will continue to direct resources to the high-risk sectors, but health issues such as those caused by exposure to asbestos, dust, noise, and manual handling are also major risks in the workplace. These hazards account for more working days lost than injuries and we intend to increase our focus on these topics during 2016,” he said.


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