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Health and Safety

2022 saw lowest number of work-related fatalities in 30 years

Provisional data shows that the leading cause was falling from a height.

PROVISIONAL DATA from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) shows that 2022 saw the lowest number of work-related incident deaths in 30 years.

The HSA data shows that 26 people lost their lives in work-related incidents in 2022 compared to 38 in 2021. This is the lowest figure recorded since the Authority was established over thirty years ago.

The leading causes of work-related fatalities were falling from height (nine fatalities) and loss of control of a vehicle or its attachments (seven fatalities).

The HSA said that fatal incidents happened to victims from all age groups, with the highest number involving people between 55-64 years (10 fatalities).

The age groups 55-64 and 65 years and over represented 69% of all fatalities in 2022, with these age groups representing 19% of employees in Ireland.

Farming saw 12 fatalities recorded in 2022 compared to 10 in 2021, and it remains the sector with the highest number of fatalities.

When it comes to a geographical breakdown, Dublin, Galway and Wexford recorded the highest level of fatalities with three in each county; no fatalities were recorded in 2022 in counties Carlow, Clare, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Sligo and Wicklow.

Of the 26 fatalities in 2022, 10 were employees, 13 were self-employed and three were non-workers. Overall, 25 fatalities were male and one was female.

The transport and storage sector recorded a decline of 83% with one fatality in 2022, compared to six in 2021. Meanwhile, manufacturing recorded no fatalities in 2022, compared to five in 2021.

The HSA welcomed the decline of over 30%, and noted that it comes against a 3.4% increase in employment figures (Q3 2022 versus Q3 2021).

But it said that while the confirmed number of work-related fatalities this year is the lowest recorded, it is important to point out that there are ongoing investigations that may see the reported/recorded number of fatalities increase.

Mark Cullen, Interim Chief Executive at the Health and Safety Authority commented: “It is positive to see such a substantial decline in work-related fatalities in 2022. However, our view is that every work-related death is preventable and vigilance around health and safety in Irish workplaces is still imperative.”

Christmas this year for the families and friends of all those killed in workplace incidents will have been a difficult one and our thoughts are with them.

Mark Cullen also said that the HSA sees a large number of fatalities relating to working at height and vehicle handling. “We also know from the data that the age groups 55 and over represents 69% of all fatalities in 2022, with these age groups representing 19% of employees in Ireland,” he said. “As Ireland’s labour force is aging, we must all look to our work place practices, and ensure that health and safety is being prioritised across all workforce age groups.”

Cullen added that the HSA is urging employers and their workers to think about the task they are asking others to carry out, or that they are about to undertake.

Complete a risk assessment and make sure the right precautions are in place and nobody is putting themselves or others in danger. As evident in our records for 2022, if working with heavy machinery or at a height, be particularly vigilant and take the appropriate care.

While the construction sector did see a decline in deaths, with the HSA welcomed, it noted that it is “all too aware of this industry being one of the most dangerous”. As a consequence, it asks “that smaller sites and contractors in particular continue to ensure that their own and their workers’ safety is a priority every day”.

The Health and Safety Authority has guidance and supports available across industry sectors in Ireland and the www.BeSMART.ie tool is freely available to employers and employees. Information across industry sectors is also available at www.HSA.ie.

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