Workplace deaths at record low
The number of workplace deaths is at its lowest level since official records began 20 years ago, it was revealed today.
Forty-three people died at work - down from 57 in 2008 - with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) warning that building sites and farms were the most dangerous places.
The HSA said a study of accidents revealed most deaths were a result of drivers or machine operators losing control.
And despite improvements virtually across the board, officials revealed incidents triggered by violence or aggression worsened last year and now account for 3pc of injuries compared to the average 1pc in recent years.
HSA chairman Jim Lyons said inspectors and safety officers were aware of the difficulties facing businesses in the downturn.
"These are undoubtedly challenging times for employers and employees and we have all had to find new ways to make efficient use of our resources," Mr Lyons said.
"We cannot compromise on the health, safety and welfare of workers regardless of the economic situation."
Although farms and building sites were classed the most at-risk, the HSA said the number of agriculture related deaths fell by 50pc to 11, while 10 construction workers, a fall of a third, died last year.
The HSA's annual report revealed that 18 deaths, all men, involved vehicle activity of some sort - 14 of these occurred in the workplace, three were driving accidents and one involved a man working at the roadside.
Dara Calleary, minister for labour affairs, said: "The reduction in workplace deaths during 2009 is welcome but there were still 43 people who lost their lives as a result of work activity.
"I believe that further reductions can be achieved by continuing to increase awareness and simplifying compliance."
A Department of Enterprise spokesman said the HSA was improving safety by increasing awareness and providing advice while at the same time reducing the regulatory burden on employers.
Other figures from the HSA report showed:
- Some 18,451 inspections were carried out with officials issuing enforcement orders in 11pc of visits;
- A fall in workplace injuries last year to 6,707, compared to 8,390 in 2008;
- One of the biggest shifts in trends last year saw the percentage of fatalities involving the self-employed fall from 39pc in 2008 to 1pc;
- Manual handling was the biggest cause of accidents while slips, trips and falls was second.