Work fatalities hit record low of 37 in 2018

Health and Safety Authority says fatal accident rate of 1.6 deaths per 100,000 workers is now at an all-time low

Agriculture has one of the highest rates of fatality among workplaces in Ireland, according to a report by the ESRI and the Health and Safety Authority. Photograph: Frank Miller

Agriculture has one of the highest rates of fatality among workplaces in Ireland, according to a report by the ESRI and the Health and Safety Authority. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Work-related deaths hit a record low last year, with figures down almost a quarter on 2017, according to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

Figures issued by the HSA show 37 people were killed in work-related incidents in 2018, a decline of 23 per cent on 2017 and the lowest figure since the establishment of the authority in 1989. The fatal accident rate of 1.6 deaths per 100,000 workers is also now at an all-time low, the HSA said.

The farming sector, which has consistently been the most dangerous sector in which to work, featured in 15 work-related deaths last year compared to 25 in 2017, a decline of 40 per cent.

Five workers died in construction-related incidents last year, another five died in the transport and storage industries, while fishing and aquaculture accounted for four deaths last year.

HSA chief executive Dr Sharon McGuinness welcomed the decline in work-related fatalities .

There are challenges ahead such as Brexit and also the fact that many employers are facing a skills shortage in certain sectors

“The fatality rate of 1.6 deaths per 100,000 workers is particularly significant given it was as high as 6.4 per 100,000 workers in the early 1990s. Due to the efforts of employers, employees and key stakeholders, there has been a huge improvement in health and safety standards since then. However, with 37 people losing their lives in work-related activity in 2018 there is clearly still more to be done.”

She said while farming had seen a very strong improvement in 2018, 15 fatalities – 41 per cent of total fatalities – was “still far too many for a sector that employs just 6 per cent of the workforce”.

She said with the economy growing the construction sector, in addition to farming, would remain a key priority in 2019.

“The economy is thriving with thousands of new workers joining the workforce each month. There are challenges ahead such as Brexit and also the fact that many employers are facing a skills shortage in certain sectors. In this context it is important that worker health and safety stays on the priority list. Safe and healthy employees are the backbone of any successful enterprise”.