Official figures, released by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), show that 46 people were killed in work-related accidents during 2013, compared to 48 in 2012.
There were reductions in fatalities in the agriculture sector, from 21 in 2012 down to 16 in 2013; the fishing sector, from seven in 2012 to four in 2013; and the water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities sector with four fatalities in 2012 and one reported last year.
Commenting on the sector with the highest number of fatalities, Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the HSA said: “We recognise that some jobs can be more hazardous than others, the number of fatalities in agriculture each year bears that out. However, we will never accept that these deaths are inevitable and cannot be prevented. I am particularly concerned that four children lost their lives due to work-related accidents on Irish farms last year. We are working to foster a culture of safety in the sector but high accident rates show that the pace of change is too slow. I am calling on farmers to make 2014 the safest year on farms ever recorded.”
The construction sector recorded the second highest number of fatalities with 11 killed, making it the third year in a row that fatalities increased in the sector. The main causes were the movement of vehicles on site and falls from height.
Mr O’Halloran said this was a cause for concern.
“We welcome any news that the construction sector is recovering, but I am concerned at the increased fatality rates. The industry did previously have a poor safety record and, to its credit, industry stakeholders got together and worked on improving standards. We cannot allow those gains to be eroded, especially in the context of economic recovery and the anticipated increase in construction activity.”
The number of fatalities in the transportation and storage sector increased from one in 2012 to four in 2013.
Incidents involving vehicles at work accounted for 20 fatalities in 2013.
The county with the highest number of fatalities during 2013 was Cork with 12 occurring; six in agriculture, four in construction, one in education and one in fishing. Counties Dublin and Waterford recorded the second highest number of fatalities with four in each.
Of the 46 killed in work-related accidents in 2013, there were 8 non-worker fatalities: five in Agriculture, two in retail and one in construction.
“The overall trend in fatalities has been decreasing for the last 10 years. However the fact is that each year people lose their lives because of a work-related accident. This is a tragedy for the victims, their families, friends and the wider community. Generally our investigations show that these tragedies could have been prevented. The likelihood of an accident occurring can be greatly reduced by ensuring that safety is at the core of all work activity, anything less is an invitation to disaster,” said Mr O’Halloran.