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Workplace fatalities drop

Wednesday, 11th January, 2017 1:01am

The number of fatal workplace accidents fell by more than 20 per cent in 2016, however work-related deaths on farms remains high.

44 people lost their lives in workplaces in 2016, two of which occurred in Galway.

According to figures released by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), fatal workplace injuries decreased by 21 per cent compared to 2015 where 56 fatalities were reported. It was also the lowest number of workplace deaths since 2009.

The number of deaths on farms remained high, with 21 reported in 2016, compared to 18 in 2015. Of those agricultural fatalities, one occurred in Galway.

Construction fatalities were down to nine in 2016, from 11 in 2015 and there was also a reduction in the number of fishing related deaths, down to three in 2016 from five in 2015. The transportation and storage sector had one fatality compared to four in 2015.

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

Cork recorded the highest number of fatalities in 2016 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, Chief Executive of the HSA said they welcome the reduction in the number of work-related fatalities last year.

“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,” he said.

Addressing the continued high accident rate in the agriculture sector, Mr O’Halloran said there is a “systemic problem” with safety on Irish 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. Our farm safety walks and knowledge transfer groups are designed to effect long-term behavioural change and it is only through this type of transformation that we will see a significant reduction in farm deaths,” he added.

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