The number of people killed in work-related activities fell by almost 20% last year

According to a report from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), there were 46 workplace fatalities in Ireland last year down from 56 in 2015.

The highest number of fatalities were in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector, where 24 worker deaths were recorded in 2016, with one additional non-worker death. There were nine worker fatalities in the construction sector last year making this the sector with the second highest number of fatalities since 2012.

A total of 23 self-employed people were killed in workplace accidents, including 18 farmers, three in the construction sector, with the remaining two self-employed workers from the fishing sector and the forestry sector. Foreigners accounted for 22% or 10 of 46 worker fatalities in 2016.

The HSA annual report for 2016 revealed that the organisation carried out 10,477 inspections and investigations. A total of 6,497 inspections were carried out in the farming, construction and fishing sectors.

The HSA took 17 prosecutions leading to fines totalling €614,000, while written advice was provided in over 4,301 inspections. A total of 369 improvement notices and 413 prohibition notices were issued by the HSA in 2016.

A total of 779 market surveillance checks of chemical products on the market were carried out, while the HSA’s customer call centre received around 20,000 contacts.

HSA chief executive Martin O’Halloran said 2016 was a good year for safety and enforcement.

“Last year was a successful year for the authority although there are certain industry sectors, for example, farming, that remain an area of concern,” he said.

“As well as undertaking a wide range of enforcement activity across a variety of industry sectors, we also continued to focus on our prevention activity with the development of several important educational and awareness raising initiatives. It is this combination of prevention and enforcement activities that I believe will deliver the best outcomes.”

Employment minister Pat Breen said despite the improvement in the workplace fatality rate, more work needed to be done.

“I welcome the progress made by the Health and Safety Authority in the pursuit of its goal of making workplace safety, health and welfare an integral part of doing business in modern Ireland,” he said. “Tragically, 46 people were killed in work-related activities in 2016.

“Although this is a welcome decline of almost 20% on the 2015 figure, there is clearly still much to be done. I urge all employers, large and small, to ensure that the safety and health of their employees, and anyone affected by their work activity, is at the core of their business pursuits. Anything less is unacceptable.”


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