The number of deaths in the workplace dropped by 11% in 2012 from the year before, latest figures have revealed.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) received reports of 48 work-related deaths last year, down from 54 in 2011. Nearly a third of those who died were farmers.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said while standards were improving, both the authority and employers still face a "huge challenge" in fighting workplace deaths.
Mr Bruton said: "Every workplace fatality is avoidable and represents a terrible tragedy for a family and a community, and combating workplace fatalities and injuries represents a huge challenge for both the HSA and employers."
Launching the HSA's 2012 annual report and statistics summary for 2011 to 2012, the minister said it was clear the authority had achieved a lot last year.
He added: "Significant gains have been made in the area of occupational safety and health and chemicals regulation since the authority's establishment in 1989. Each year standards are steadily increasing and hopefully over the next few years we will maintain those gains and see sustained reductions in accidents, particularly in the agriculture sector."
Nearly half of those who died in the workplace last year - 46% - were self-employed. Of those 22 people, 17 were farmers.
According to the HSA report, 13,835 workplace inspections and investigations were carried out in 2012 - a 5% increase on original targets. Nearly 23% of those inspections (3,136) were carried out in the agriculture sector, while 28% (3,932) involved the construction sector. Around 830 of the total inspections - 6% - resulted in formal enforcement action being taken. There were 20 prosecutions, resulting in sentences and fines totalling 425,000 euro.
HSA chairman Michael Horgan said he was confident employers could see the benefits of good health and safety practices.
Mr Horgan said: "The feedback we have received from many stakeholders in relation to our activities has been positive. We are encouraged to spend more time lessening the administrative burden when we can see a willingness for self-compliance."