FARMING continues to be the most dangerous sector in which to work, but the overall number of workplace deaths fell last year.
Figures in the annual report of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have revealed that there were 48 deaths in the workplace in 2012 – down 11pc from 54 in 2011.
Despite numerous awareness campaigns about the dangers of the agricultural sector, farmers continue to disproportionately suffer fatal injuries while at work.
In total, 22 people (46pc) of those who died in the workplace in 2012 were self-employed and of those 17 were farmers.
However, there has been some progress in the sector with a year-on-year decrease recorded in the last three years – with 21 people killed on farms in 2011 and 25 in 2010.
Launching HSA's annual report, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said the HSA and employers still faced a "huge challenge" in fighting workplace deaths.
"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," he said. According to the report, 13,835 workplace inspections and investigations were carried out in 2012 – a 5pc increase on original targets.
Nearly 23pc of those inspections (3,136) were carried out in the agriculture sector, while 28pc (3,932) involved the construction sector.
Around 830 of the total inspections resulted in formal enforcement action being taken.
There were 20 prosecutions, resulting in sentences and fines totalling €425,000.
The report also revealed 6,619 non-fatal injuries in the workplace in 2012 – down 5pc from the year before.
The highest number of these – 20pc – occurred within the human health and social work sector.