Farming the most dangerous sector in 2019 with 20% rise in fatalities

Farming was still the most dangerous sector in the country, according to the latest figures released by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), which show there were 46 deaths in the workplace in total last year.

The farming sector was hit with 18 fatalities in 2019, followed by construction and transportation and storage, accounting for 12 and six deaths respectively, last year.

The 18 fatalities in the farm sector mark a 20% increase up from the 15 deaths recorded in 2018, according to the authority’s figures.

The deaths were associated with: seven being trapped or crushed; two struck by a vehicle; two drowning; two struck by a falling object; and five categorised as “other”. Livestock were involved in six fatalities, with cattle involved in each case, according to the figures.

The deaths occurred throughout 2019 with the January, April, July and September all particularly dangerous months, accounting for three deaths each.

As almost three in every four farm fatalities last year involved people 60 and older, HSA CEO Dr. Sharon McGuinness said farmers must recognise their limitations as they age which may affect their ability to work.

“As farmers get older, they must adjust their work practices to make sure that they avoid injury.

I would urge people to really take on board the dangers around farming whenever working with livestock, slurry or machinery.

“Farmers think it’ll never happen to them but sadly as we have seen, all it takes is a few seconds for a serious injury or death to occur,” she said.

“Employers must demonstrate from the top that no job is worth a loss of life, injury or illness.”

Meanwhile, the provisional data shows that Wexford had the highest number of fatal incidents, with seven fatalities in 2019.

As statistics have a way of obscuring the personal tragedies that lie behind the numbers, Dr. McGuinness said that the toll of workplace injury, illness and death remains too high, and many workers remain at serious risk.

Although, we have seen a downward trend between 2015 (56 fatalities) and 2018 (39 fatalities), action still needs to be taken to ensure that every worker goes home safely each and every evening.

“We must not become complacent as we continue our mission to prevent injury, death and ill health at work,” she concluded.