Last year was not a good year for workplace accidents in South Tipperary - the county is in the unenviable position of having the second highest number of workplace fatalities in the last 12 months.
Five people tragically lost their lives in the county in what the Health and Safety Authority describe as workplace deaths. Three of those tragedies took place on farms.
Dangers lurk on many areas of the farm. In January of last year a farm worker was struck by a telescopic forklift in a farm yard; in July a farmer was struck by a moving part of a baler machine; and in December a man was injured while walking horses between fields. All three people passed away.
Two other workplace injuries in the county took place when an explosion occurred at a mine and when a person fell from a mobile hoist harness.
Only Cork had a higher incidence of workplace deaths last year.
A total of 55 workplace deaths were reported to the Health and Safety Authority during 2011, across Ireland. This represents a 15% increase on the 48 workplace deaths reported the year before.
During 2011 there were 22 people killed while working in agriculture compared to 25 in 2010. Three of those sad deaths were in Tipperary.
Speaking about workplace deaths in 2011, Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority said: “This is the second year in a row that the total number of workplace fatalities has increased. The fact is that behind these statistics there are human tragedies, lives lost and families ruined. Everyone has the right to go to work without danger to their safety or health.”
Over the last number of years the high fatality rate in agriculture has resulted in the Authority increasing inspections and awareness raising activities in that sector. A new awareness raising campaign aimed at encouraging farmers to stop taking risks has just been launched. Featuring a real farmer who suffered an arm amputation, the campaign is a hard hitting one and highlights the importance of not taking risks.
According to Mr O’Halloran, during 2012 the Authority will introduce further initiatives, awareness raising campaigns and focused inspections with the aim of achieving a sustained reduction in workplace accidents and deaths.
There will also be a continuation of the Authority’s efforts to help small businesses implement workplace safety and health measures in a cost effective way. “Last year the Authority launched the Taking Care of Business programme, which is aimed at the estimated 655,000 people involved in small businesses. Initiatives such as this are designed to build a strong culture of workplace health and safety in all workplaces.”
Farm organisations regularly remind farmers of the dangers on farms, and just last autumn Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D., launched the Teagasc Farm Safety Poster campaign. The A to Z Farm Safety Poster has been developed by Teagasc to tackle the number of deaths and serious injuries occurring on Irish farms.