Total of 46 killed in workplace incidents in 2013
Figures show four children died on farms and 20 people died in incidents involving vehicles
Eleven people died in construction sector workplace accidents last year. Some 46 people in total lost their lives in such incidents. Photograph: Kate Geraghty/The Irish Times
A total of 46 people died in work-related accidents last year, including four children killed on farms, official figures show.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) said this compared to 48 deaths in 2012. Incidents involving vehicles at work accounted for 20 of last year’s workplace fatalities.
There was reduction in the number of workplace deaths in the agriculture sector, with 16 such incidents last year compared to 21 in 2012.
Four people died in the fishing sector compared to seven the previous year. In the water supply, sewerage and waste management sector there was one fatality last year, down from four in 2012.
HSA chief executive Martin O’Halloran said the organisation recognised that some jobs could be more hazardous than others.
“The number of fatalities in agriculture each year bears that out. However, we will never accept that these deaths are inevitable and cannot be prevented.
“I am particularly concerned that four children lost their lives due to work-related accidents on Irish farms last year.”
Mr O’Halloran said the HSA was working to foster a “culture of safety” in the sector but that accident rates showed the pace of change was too slow.
He asked farmers to make 2014 “ the safest year on farms ever recorded”.
The construction sector was responsible for the second highest number of fatalities, with 11 deaths. Last year was also the third consecutive year that the number of fatalities in the sector increased.
The HSA said the main causes were the movement of vehicles on site and falls from a height.
“We welcome any news that the construction sector is recovering, but I am concerned at the increased fatality rates,” Mr O’Halloran said.
“The industry did previously have a poor safety record and, to its credit, industry stakeholders got together and worked on improving standards. We cannot allow those gains to be eroded, especially in the context of economic recovery and the anticipated increase in construction activity.”
Fatalities also increased in the transportation and storage sector – up from one in 2012 to four last year.
By county, Cork had the highest number of workplace deaths, with 12 people losing their lives.
Dublin and Waterford had the second highest number, with four each.
The HSA said that of the 46 killed in work-related accidents in 2013, eight were “non-worker” fatalities. There were five such deaths in agriculture, two in retail and one in construction.
Mr O’Halloran said the overall trend was that fatalities had been decreasing for the last 10 years.
“However the fact is that each year people lose their lives because of a work-related accident. This is a tragedy for the victims, their families, friends and the wider community.
“Generally our investigations show that these tragedies could have been prevented. The likelihood of an accident occurring can be greatly reduced by ensuring that safety is at the core of all work activity, anything less is an invitation to disaster.”