Tractors were involved in the majority of workplace fatalities resulting from vehicle accidents in 2018, according to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
In the HSA’s annual report for last year, it was also shown that vehicles in general were involved in almost half (44%) of workplace deaths last year, more than any other specific cause.
Of the 39 workplace deaths in 2018 – 15 of which occurred in the agriculture sector – six of them involved tractors, while cars, refuse lorries and forklifts were also involved in fatalities.
Responding to these figures, Minister Of State for Trade and Employment, Pat Breen, welcomed the decline in fatalities, but stressed that “any improvement in numbers provides little comfort to the family, friends and colleagues of the dozens of Irish people whose lives were cut short while doing their job”.
Dr. Sharon McGuinness, chief executive officer of the HSA, said vehicles are now “the biggest threat to life in the Irish workplace”.
“Whether it’s a farmer driving a tractor in a yard, or a truck driver delivering a load, across all sectors, incidents involving vehicles accounted for almost half – or 44% – of all deaths last year. The worrying trend is continuing with six deaths provisionally recorded so far this year in the transportation sector,” she highlighted.
The number of people being killed in circumstances that could have been prevented is nothing short of a human tragedy. A change in mindset is required to reduce the numbers dying or suffering serious injury as a result of workplace vehicles. Complacency is costing lives.
Dr. McGuinness underlined that people driving in the workplace may not be aware of the same hazards they would look out for while driving on the road, such as watching for pedestrians.
“These checks could help prevent a fatal catastrophe to themselves or a work colleague,” she concluded.
The annual report also revealed that the HSA concluded 15 prosecutions in 2018, resulting in fines totaling €705,972.
HSA inspectors issued 452 improvement notices, 523 prohibition notices and 35 on-the-spot fines last year.
As well as highlighting the danger of workplace fatalities, the HSA is also taking part in the ‘whole-of-Government’ work to get Ireland ready for Brexit. The HSA will work in areas relating to chemicals, accreditation and industrial products.