Official figures released yesterday (Thursday, January 3 ) by the Health and Safety Authority show that there was a 13 per cent reduction in the number of workplace deaths during 2012. There were 47 people killed in workplace accidents last year compared to 54 in 2011 with just one occurring in County Mayo.
The agriculture sector recorded the highest number of deaths for the third year in succession, with 21 occurring in 2012 compared to 22 in 2011, and it was a Mayo farmer who lost his life in January 2012 when he hit his head off a concrete wall in a slatted house after an animal in a cattle crush ran at a gate and forced the deceased backwards.
Speaking about the authority’s efforts to improve performance in the agriculture sector Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority, said: “We have run awareness campaigns, distributed guidance, and tailored our inspection programme to help create a culture of safe farming. Some progress has been made but unfortunately, last year 21 families lost loved ones due to farm accidents. Farms are family homes as well as workplaces so farmers need to realise that safe farming is about protecting themselves, their family, and their businesses.”
The biggest reduction in fatalities occurred in the transportation and storage sector, with one reported in 2012 compared to seven in 2011. The construction sector saw an increase in fatalities from six in 2011 to eight in 2012, and there was also an increase in the fishing sector with five deaths in 2011 and seven in 2012.
Martin O’Halloran says he is 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.”
Accidents involving vehicles at work accounted for 19 fatalities in 2012. This is consistent with fatal accident trends for previous years. During 2013 the authority will continue to work closely with the Road Safety Authority and the Garda with a view to increasing awareness of the many hazards associated with workplace vehicles.