RoI | Lowest fatalities on record
Thanks to Health & Safety Review for alerting us to the Health and Safety Authorities' press release below.
Provisional figures released by the Health and Safety Authority show 38 people were killed in workplace accidents last year, which is the lowest number on record since the Authority was established in 1989.
Ten of those killed worked in construction, nine in farming, six in transport and storage and five in manufacturing. Two were killed in the water supply/waste management sector, two were killed in the wholesale/retail sector and two in forestry. One was killed in education and one in the arts/entertainment sector.
Twelve of the fatalities were caused by loss of means of transport or handling equipment and ten by falls from height. Four were caused by animals: three by loss of control and one by an attack. Another four were caused by the fall/collapse of material from above. Other causes (one in each case) were body movement with no physical stress, breakage of material at joints and other loss of control.
Of the 38 people killed, eight were aged over 65 and nine were in the 55-64 age bracket. Five were aged between 45-54, seven between 35-44, three between 35-44 and four between 18-24. Two where aged under 18.
Since the HSA was established in 1989, the number of fatal accidents has fallen consistently. In 1991, the first year of the modern era for which comparable figures are available, 73 people were killed in workplace accidents. The 2021 figures are just the second time since it was established that the Authority has recorded fewer than 40 fatal accidents. In 2018, 39 people were killed in workplace accidents. In the press release announcing the figures the Authority emphasises that the figures are provisional. When provisional figures were released for 2018, 37 fatalities were recorded, so it is possible the figure for 2021 will increase. Whatever about that, the underlying message is that fatalities have fallen consistently since the Authority was established.
Commenting on the figures, the Authority’s chief inspector, Mark Cullen said “It is positive to see such a substantial decline in work-related fatalities in 2021. However, our view is that every work-related death is preventable. Christmas this year for the families and friends of these 38 individuals will have been a difficult one and our thoughts are with them”. “Farming continues to be one of the most dangerous sectors in which to work, but a 50% decline on the 2020 level of fatalities is encouraging and a sign that the safety message is getting through. Our work in the farming sector will continue and I would urge all farmers not to become complacent and let’s make sure that this time next year we’re discussing even fewer lives lost”.
In relation to the construction sector, Mr Cullen said, “The construction sector saw a 38% decline in work-related deaths with 10 workers losing their lives in 2021 following a spike in fatalities in 2020. Of course, this is 10 deaths too many and smaller sites and contractors in particular need to ensure that worker safety is at the top of the priority list every day”.
The most common incident causes leading to deaths in workplace settings were the loss of control of a vehicle or its attachments (12) and falling from a height (10), which between them accounted for well over half of all fatalities (58%). Commenting on the incident triggers, Mr Cullen said, “We know what’s causing the major incidents leading to loss of life and serious injuries. Losing control of a workplace vehicle, whether that’s a tractor, excavator or other machine, and falling from a height, are the key triggers. If employers focus on these two key areas many lives will be saved in 2022.”
He added, “Think about the task you’re about to undertake or asking others to carry out, step back for a minute, plan the work, make sure the right precautions are in place and nobody is putting themselves or others in danger. If working with heavy machinery or at a height, extra vigilance is needed. Don’t assume the unthinkable will never happen”.
This article is reproduced courtesy of Health & Safety Review.