Twenty people killed in farm accidents last year
Health and Safety report shows 45 people died in workplace incidents in 2016
Over the last eight years farm workers have made up 40 per cent of all deaths in the workplace. Image: iStock
Twenty people were killed in accidents on Irish farms last year, more than double the number of workplace fatalities in any other sector.
The number of workplace fatalities in the agricultural sector is up from 18 recorded deaths in 2015, according to the Health and Safety Authority’s (HSA) annual report. In total, 45 people died in workplace accidents last year, a reduction from 56 in 2015.
The construction sector had the second highest number of fatalities, with 9 people dying last year.
Over the last eight years farm workers have made up 40 per cent of all deaths in the workplace. In total, 158 people have died in accidents in the agricultural sector since 2009, with 238 deaths occurring in all other sectors of the workforce over the same period.
People losing control of transport machinery or equipment accounted for 22 per cent of fatalities last year, followed by people falling from a height (15 per cent). The Cork and Kerry region had the highest number of workplace deaths last year, with 12 recorded in the region.
The number of non-fatal workplace injuries last year was the highest in the past 10 years, with 8,381 recorded incidents. Healthcare and social workers had the highest number of reported injuries, with 1,591 last year. The manufacturing sector had the second highest number, with 1,447 reported accidents.
Back injuries were most common, according to the report. They made up 23 per cent of accidents last year, followed by injuries to people’s fingers (9 per cent), and legs or knees (8 per cent).
Martin O’Halloran, chief executive of the HSA said while the overall number of workplace fatalities was declining “certain industry sectors, for example farming, remain an area of concern”.
Minister for Employment Pat Breen said the number killed in Irish workplace accidents last year was tragic. “Although this is a welcome decline of almost 20 per cent on the 2015 figure, there is clearly still much to be done,” he said.
The HSA served 413 employers with prohibition notices over health and safety issues last year. More than half were served in the construction sector, with 214 notices issued.
Last year 17 employers were taken to court by over health and safety failures, 16 employers were convicted of offences and together paid out €614,000 in fines.
In one of the cases, Cavan food production firm Liffey Meats ULC pleaded guilty for failing to provide adequate training and protective equipment to an employee in its laboratory, after an agar jar exploded resulting in the loss of the employee’s eye in March 2015. The case was settled in July 2016 and the company was fined €2,000.