Safety chiefs issue plea to farmers to improve safety

Health and safety chiefs have again pressed farmers to improve safety on their lands after agriculture accounted for almost a third of all work-related deaths last year.

Official figures show that there were 46 people killed in work-related accidents during 2013, compared to 48 the previous year – and four of them were children who died on farms.

Martin O’Halloran, chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), said the pace of safety improvements on farms is not quick enough.

“We recognise that some jobs can be more hazardous than others, the number of fatalities in agriculture each year bears that out,” he said.

“However, we will never accept that these deaths are inevitable and cannot be prevented.

“I am particularly concerned that four children lost their lives due to work-related accidents on Irish farms last year. We are working to foster a culture of safety in the sector, but high accident rates show that the pace of change is too slow.

“I am calling on farmers to make 2014 the safest year on farms ever recorded.”

The HSE report found 16 farm-related deaths last year, down from 21 in 2012.

In the construction sector, there were 11 deaths – the third year in a row of an increase – with the main causes the movement of vehicles on site and falls from height.

In other industries, the fishing sector was hit by four deaths, compared to seven in 2012 ; water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities sector saw four fatalities in 2012 and one reported last year; and deaths in the transportation and storage sectors jumped from one to four.

Incidents involving vehicles at work accounted for 20 of the deaths last year.

Mr O’Halloran added: “We welcome any news that the construction sector is recovering, but I am concerned at the increased fatality rates.

“The industry did previously have a poor safety record and, to its credit, industry stakeholders got together and worked on improving standards. We cannot allow those gains to be eroded, especially in the context of economic recovery and the anticipated increase in construction activity.”

Cork had the worst record last year with 12 deaths – including six farm related, four in construction, one in education and one in fishing.

The HSA also reported that of the 46 people killed in work-related accidents last year eight of them were not workers.

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