Farm fatalities reduce by 40% – but still account for 41% of work deaths

Farm fatalities dropped by 40% in 2018, while the year also saw the lowest figure of work-related fatalities since the establishment of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) in 1989, according to the latest statistics from the HSA.

However, there is clearly more to be done, the authority has stressed.

Figures released today (Tuesday, January 8) show that 37 people were killed in work-related accidents in 2018, a decline of 23% on 2017.

The farming sector, which has consistently been the most dangerous sector in which to work, featured 15 work-related deaths last year compared to 25 in 2017, a decline of 40%.

The fatal accident rate of 1.6 deaths per 100,000 workers is also now at an all-time low, according to the authority.

Commenting on the statistics, CEO of the HSA Dr. Sharon McGuinness said: “I very much welcome the decline in work-related fatalities in 2018.

“The fatality rate of 1.6 deaths per 100,000 workers is particularly significant given it was as high as 6.4 per 100,000 workers in the early 1990s.

“Due to the efforts of employers, employees and key stakeholders, there has been a huge improvement in health and safety standards since then.

“However, with 37 people losing their lives in work-related activity in 2018 there is clearly still more to be done,” she said.

Although farming has also seen a very strong improvement in 2018, 15 fatalities – which represents 41% of total fatalities – is still far too many for a sector that employs just 6% of the workforce.

“The next highest sector is construction with five deaths in 2018, 14% of the total, so both sectors will remain a key priority for us in 2019.

“I urge all stakeholders, particularly those in the farming and construction sectors, to focus their efforts to ensure 2019 sees a continuation of this very positive trend.”

Dr. McGuinness commented on the current economic state of the country, noting: “The economy is thriving with thousands of new workers joining the workforce each month.

“There are challenges ahead such as Brexit and also the fact that many employers are facing a skills shortage in certain sectors.

In this context it is important that worker health and safety stays on the priority list.

“Safe and healthy employees are the backbone of any successful enterprise,” the CEO concluded.