The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has released their annual report including the details of workplace related fatalities for 2015, which shows that the overall number of workplace related deaths has remained constant from 2014.
In contrast to this consistency, there was a noticeable change seen in the proportion of fatal accidents at work accounted for by different industries. Two-thirds of work-related deaths occurred in businesses with fewer than ten employees or where the victim was self-employed – mainly in agriculture, construction and fishing.
Construction workplace fatalities in Ireland increased from eight in 2014 to eleven in 2015 and the fishing industry also saw an increase in fatal accidents from one in 2014 to five in 2015. Fatalities in agriculture accounted for eighteen reported deaths compared to thirty deaths in 2014 and included the deaths of three children who were struck by falling objects or moving vehicles.
Just under half of the of the workplace fatalities in Ireland were related to accidents involving moving vehicles (21 deaths), and a further fifteen employees were killed as a result of a fall from height. Thirteen workers died as a result of being crushed or trapped by machinery. Of the remaining workplace fatalities in Ireland, the majority were attributable to drowning.
Brian Higgisson – the Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority – said the Authority will be looking for further improvements and reductions in accidents during 2016. He said in a press release: “All work-related deaths are tragic and while we must cautiously welcome the reduction in agriculture fatalities, it is still the most dangerous occupation and that needs to change. There are high levels of safety and health awareness in Irish workplaces and we must ensure that this translates to changes in behaviour and fewer accidents in all the sectors this year.”
Mr Higgisson continued: “We will continue to direct resources to the high-risk sectors, but health issues such as those caused by exposure to asbestos, dust, noise and manual handling are also major risks in the workplace. These hazards account for more working days lost than injuries and we intend to increase our focus on these topics during 2016.”