Farming the most dangerous profession in Ireland – 21 farm deaths in 2016

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has confirmed that farming is Ireland’s most dangerous profession, as 21 people lost their lives in farm accidents in 2016.

Nine of these were men over the age of 65.

Worryingly this is an increase of three on the year before, when 18 people lost there lives while working in the Irish agricultural sector.

Even more of a worry for the farming sector is the fact that work place fatalities fell by 21% across all sectors in 2016, with 12 fewer people losing their lives when compared to the year before.

Construction fatalities were down to nine in 2016, from 11 in 2015. There was a reduction in the number of fishing related deaths down to three in 2016 from five in 2015, while the transportation and storage sector had one fatality compared to four in 2015.

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The HSA also reports that across all sectors, accidents involving vehicles accounted for nearly half (20) of all fatalities in 2016.

The county with the highest number of fatalities in 2016 was Cork with eight reported, followed by Kerry and Meath with four each.

The majority of work-related deaths (30) involved 25-65 year old males. However, there were nine men over 65 killed in the agriculture sector.

Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the HSA said the authority welcomes the reduction in the number of work related fatalities last year, the lowest number since 2009.

“It is especially important that as the numbers at work increase, accident rates are moving in the opposite direction.

Nevertheless we must not forget the many families that experienced devastation and tragedy in 2016. It was a time when they lost loved ones due to events that should have been prevented.

O’Halloran said the vast majority of sectors experienced a reduction in fatalities last year, but it is clear that there is a systemic problem with safety on Irish farms.

“For the last seven years the agriculture sector has recorded the highest number of fatalities. Safety must become an integral part of farming culture, rather than an afterthought.

“Our farm safety walks and knowledge transfer groups are designed to effect long-term behavioural change and it is only through this type of transformation that we will see a significant reduction in farm deaths,” he said.