Figures released by the Health and Safety Authority today show that 55 people were killed in work-related accidents in 2015. This is exactly the same number of fatalities that occurred in 2014.
Fatalities in agriculture were down by 40%, with 18 deaths reported compared to 30 in 2014.
However, construction fatalities increased from eight in 2014 to 11 in 2015 and the fishing sector also saw an increase from one in 2014 to five in 2015.
Incidents involving vehicles were the main cause of fatal accidents in the workplace, accounting for 21 of the total. Fifteen people were killed as a result of falls from height, the second most common cause of death.
Two-thirds of work-related deaths (37 of 55) occurred in businesses with fewer than 10 employees, mainly in agriculture, construction and fishing.
There were four child fatalities in 2015, all of which occurred in agriculture.
The county with the highest number of fatalities in 2015 was Cork with 10 reported, followed by Donegal with six.
Brian Higgisson, Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, said the Authority will be looking for further improvements and reductions in accidents during 2016:
“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.”
Brian Higgisson said that along with the agriculture and construction sectors, there will also be an emphasis on work-related health risks in 2016: “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.”