BY CON DOWNING
2014 was described this week by Health and Safety Authority CEO Martin O’Halloran as a particularly horrific year for the agriculture sector.
‘The number of fatal accidents that occurred on farms last year was the highest in over 20 years. In May of 2014 alone there were five people killed. It is particularly tragic that five children lost their lives on Irish farms last year’.
Fatalities in the agriculture sector increased by 87% in 2014, with 30 people killed compared to 16 in 2013. For the fifth year running the agriculture sector has recorded the highest number of fatalities, representing roughly 55% of all work-related deaths in 2014.
The HSA chief executive warned farmers that they will face immediate prosecution if caught operating machinery without PTO covers, if unguarded slurry mixing points are identified and if young children are found to be riding in tractors without safety belts.
Meanwhile, figures released by the HSA on Tuesday revealed that, overall, 55 people were killed in work-related accidents during 2014, representing a 17% increase on the 47 reported in 2013.
According to Mr O’Halloran, last year had the highest total number of workplace fatalities since 2008. ‘We are concerned at what is a significant increase in workplace fatalities and what is particularly alarming is that 54% of fatalities involved vehicles in the workplace.
During 2014, there were reductions in fatalities in a number of sectors, including construction (from 11 down to 8); fishing (5 down to 1) and transportation and storage (4 down to 3). Aside from agriculture, there were increases in fatalities in manufacturing (from 1 up to 3) and the administrative and support services sectors (0 to 2).