Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Farming 'has safety issue' as death rate rises by 17pc

The HSA has admitted there is 'a systemic problem' with safety on Irish farms. Stock Image: PA
The HSA has admitted there is 'a systemic problem' with safety on Irish farms. Stock Image: PA
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has admitted there is "a systemic problem" with safety on Irish farms after agriculture was the only sector to show an increase in workplace fatalities last year.

The HSA revealed that 44 people died in workplace accidents in 2016 - a 21pc fall on 2015 when the figure was 56.

However, while all other major industrial sectors showed a decline in fatal accidents, farming recorded a rise of 17pc.

A total of 21 people died on Irish farms last year compared with 18 in 2015. That was despite other sectors within agriculture, including both forestry and fishing, showing declines.

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No one died in a forestry-related accident last year - compared with one death in 2015 - while fatalities in fishing fell from five in 2015 to three last year.

The breakdown of fatal accidents included construction (nine), mining (one), manufacturing (two), water supply (one), motor trade and transportation (three), support services (two), social work (one) and recreation (one).

HSA chief executive Martin O'Halloran said: "We welcome the reduction in the number of work-related fatalities last year, the lowest number since 2009.

Read more: Opinion: The time has come for tougher action on farm safety

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

"The vast majority of sectors experienced a reduction in fatalities last year."

But Mr O'Halloran warned that farming remained a major cause for concern. "It is clear that there is a systemic problem with safety on our farms," he said.

"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."

The HSA said an analysis of the overall fatality figures indicated that almost 50pc of deaths (20) involved accidents with vehicles.

Cork recorded the highest number of fatalities with eight, with Kerry and Meath both recording four each.

Almost 75pc of fatalities involved men aged between 25 and 65, but the farming sector recorded a significant number of deaths involving elderly men.

Irish Independent