There was a 50% decline on the 2020 level of farming fatalities last year, according to figures just released by the the Health and Safety Authority.
There were a total of nine deaths recorded in the agriculture sector (crop and animal production, hunting and related service activities) nationally last year, compared to 20 in 2020.
Mark Cullen, chief inspector with the Health and Safety Authority said that farming continues to be one of the most dangerous sectors for work, but that the decline in fatalities was a sign the safety message is getting through.
‘Our work in the farming sector will continue and I would urge all farmers not to become complacent,’ he said.
A total of 38 people lost their lives in 2021 in work-related fatalities, compared to 54 in 2020 (30% reduction) representing the lowest figure recorded since the authority was established over 30 years ago. Cork was one of the three counties to record the highest level of work place fatalities last year.
Along with Dublin and Wexford, Cork had five workplace deaths.
Mr Cullen said: ‘The construction sector saw a 38% decline in work-related deaths with 10 workers losing their lives in 2021 following a spike in fatalities in 2020. Of course, this is 10 deaths too many and smaller sites and contractors in particular need to ensure that worker safety is at the top of the priority list every day.’
While the farming and construction sectors saw significant declines in fatalities, some sectors experienced an increase. The transportation and storage sector recorded an increase from two deaths in 2020 to six in 2021 while the forestry and logging sector saw two deaths following none recorded in the previous year.
The most common incident causes leading to deaths in workplace settings were the loss of control of a vehicle or its attachments (12) and falling from a height (10), which between them accounted for well over half of all fatalities (58%).
Mr Cullen said: ‘We know what’s causing the major incidents leading to loss of life and serious injuries. Losing control of a workplace vehicle, whether that’s a tractor, excavator or other machine, and falling from a height, are the key triggers. If employers focus on these two key areas many lives will be saved in 2022.
‘Think about the task you’re about to undertake or asking others to carry out, step back for a minute, plan the work, make sure the right precautions are in place and nobody is putting themselves or others in danger. If working with heavy machinery or at a height, extra vigilance is needed. Don’t assume the unthinkable will never happen.’