Farms still most dangerous workplaces in Ireland

Farms remain Ireland’s most dangerous workplaces with 24 deaths last year — almost double that of any other sector.

According to the 2017 annual report of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), there were 47 work-related deaths last year, up two on 2016. Almost half of these (24) took place on farms which, once again, remains the workplace with the highest fatality rate.

The number of deaths is also on the rise. There was a total of 18 fatalities in the agricultural sector in 2015 and 20 in 2016.

The HSE completed a total of 9,934 inspections and investigations. This figure is down on the 10,478 inspections and investigations carried out in 2016 and significantly down from the high point of 18,451 inspections and investigations in 2009.

There were almost 2,000 farm inspections and investigations and over 4,400 carried out in the construction sector.

Inspectors issued 512 improvement notices and 547 prohibition notices after serious breaches were found. A total of 21 prosecutions were successfully concluded, resulting in fines of over €2.6m.

There were 400 market surveillance checks of chemical products on the Irish market, including 200 on detergents to address concerns for consumer safety.

Launching the report, Minister of State for trade and employment Pat Breen said vigilance in the workplace was the best way to avoid accidents.

“The best way to prevent accidents is to encourage employers to take their responsibilities seriously and to assist workers in identifying hazards.”

“Whether on a farm, in a factory or on a fishing boat, it is the workers and those supervising the work that are best positioned to make the right decisions in relation to safety, health and welfare,” he said.

Chief executive of the HSA Dr Sharon McGuinness said the authority was targeting areas where the risks of accidents or fatalities are high.

“Last year we implemented strong inspection and awareness campaigns. These campaigns focussed on areas such as safety around vehicles and machinery and health effects arising from stress, poor manual handling and exposure to chemicals,” she said.

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