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Saturday 14 December 2019

Some 55 people died in workplaces last year - but farm deaths significantly down

The report states that agricultural fatalities are down by 40pc

Father-of-three Bernard Mahoney (39), died after he was caught by rising water levels while out oyster farming in Clare.
Father-of-three Bernard Mahoney (39), died after he was caught by rising water levels while out oyster farming in Clare.

Sarah-Jane Murphy

SOME 55 people lost their lives in work-related accidents last year, according to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

There was a decrease in fatalities in agriculture, with 18 deaths reported in 2015, compared to 30 the previous year.

Among those killed on a farm in 2015 was John Ralph Pollard (42), a father-of-two, who was the victim of a freak accident in a shed on his farm in Ballywilliam in Co. Wexford in February.

Conversely, the construction sector experienced an increase in fatalities, with figures showing a jump from eight deaths in 2014 to 11 in 2015.

Among the 11 people killed last year was nineteen-year-old Robert O'Reilly, from Kilmainhamwood in Meath, who died while carrying out construction work on a farm in Carrickmacross in Monaghan last August.

He was employed by a contractor who was engaged to carry out work on the farm.

Meanwhile, the fishing sector also saw an increase in fatalities, from one death in 2014 to five in 2015.

One of the victims, Bernard Mahoney (34), drowned in April when he and three others who were working on oyster beds near Moyasta in Co. Clare became cut off from the shore by the incoming tide.

Fifteen people were killed as a result of falls from height, which was the second most common cause of death in the workplace in 2015.

In November, Michael McGrath (59) fell through an agricultural shed roof sky light while making repairs at a farm in Ballyglunin in Galway.

There were four child fatalities in 2015, all of which were agricultural accidents.

Little Declan Donohue Junior (4) from Knocknacarra in Galway was killed in a farm accident in Ballinaboy, Belmullet, Co. Mayo in July.

The boy was struck by a moving trailer while on holidays with his parents at the farm.

Cork was the county with the highest number of fatalities in 2015, followed by Co. Donegal with a total of six work-related deaths.

The Assistant Chief Executive of the HSA, Brian Higgisson, said they will be seeking to reduce accidents during 2016.

“All work-related deaths are tragic and while we must cautiously welcome the reduction in agriculture fatalities, it is still the most dangerous occupation and that needs to change.

"There are high levels of safety and health awareness in Irish workplaces and we must ensure that this translates to changes in behaviour and fewer accidents in all the sectors this year," he said.

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