Farming sector again records highest workplace death toll

Fri, Jan 4, 2013, 00:00

The farming sector has recorded the highest number of workplace deaths for the third year in a row, according to figures released by the Health and Safety Authority yesterday.

Of the 47 people killed in workplace accidents last year, 21 were agriculture-related. They included attacks by animals, deaths involving tractors and machinery, and slurry tank-related deaths.

Overall, there was a 13 per cent reduction in workplace deaths last year.

The authority, however, highlighted the increase in deaths in the construction sector. It recorded eight deaths compared with six in 2011, making it the sector with the second-highest number of deaths.

Health and Safety Authority chief executive Martin O’Halloran said he was concerned about construction safety standards. “The increase in fatalities and feedback from our inspectors indicates there has been, in some areas, a slippage in standards. We carried out 3,000 inspections in the sector in 2012, and we will continue a high level of engagement during 2013.”

The fishing industry recorded the third-highest number of workplace deaths with seven fishermen dying at sea last year. Last January’s sinking of the Tit Bonhomme near Glandore Harbour in Cork accounted for five of those fatalities while the other two deaths were on board a trawler that sank off Spanish Point, Co Clare. There were other drownings last year but they were not classified as workplace accidents by the authority.

The Irish branch of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health said the statistics for farm deaths gave a terrible sense of deja vu. Chairwoman Michelle Peate-Morgan called for more funding for the Health and Safety Authority to target the agriculture sector.

“Good health and safety not only protects people, but helps save money and improve productivity,” she said.

Of the 47 people killed in workplace accidents last year, there were four non-worker fatalities, two of which were children. Some 7,000 non-fatal injuries are reported to the authority every year.

Mr O’Halloran said the health and social work sector had experienced a particularly high level of these injuries in recent years. “Incidents involving manual handling and slips, trips and falls tend to be the most common cause of injury.”

The authority will be launching its programme of work for 2013 later this month.

Workplace deaths In numbers




Wholesale, retail repairs4

Water supply, sewerage, waste management etc3

Transportation storage1

IT communication1

Public administration1

Administrative support1