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Protect Irish farmers’ lives

21 February 2023

IOSH HAS called for a 'continued drive' to protect Irish farmers, despite a fall in work-related fatalities in Ireland in 2018.

Figures released by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) show that 37 people were killed in work related accidents in 2018, a decline of 23% on 2017 and the lowest figure since the establishment of the Authority in 1989.

The farming sector, which has consistently been the most dangerous sector in which to work, featured 15 work-related deaths last year compared to 25 in 2017, a decline of 40%. The fatal accident rate of 1.6 deaths per 100,000 workers is also now at an all-time low.

This shows real and welcome progress on farm safety. However, IOSH cautions that work still needs to be done to protect Irish farmers and prevent fatalities.

Chair of the Ireland Branch of IOSH Bruce Phillips said, “The decline in work-related fatalities in 2018 is a testament to the hard work being conducted by the HSA and farming community to improve safety. However, we must be wary of growing complacent.

“A continued drive in this positive direction is needed to prevent fatalities on farms. Farmers are a hard-to-reach group and it is important that we work together to meet this challenge and continue to raise awareness of farm safety.” 

Chief executive officer of the Health and Safety Authority Dr Sharon McGuinness said, “I very much welcome the decline in work-related fatalities in 2018. The fatality rate of 1.6 deaths per 100,000 workers is particularly significant given it was as high as 6.4 per 100,000 workers in the early 1990s.

“Due to the efforts of employers, employees and key stakeholders, there has been a huge improvement in health and safety standards since then. However, with 37 people losing their lives in work related activity in 2018 there is clearly still more to be done.

“Although farming has also seen a very strong improvement in 2018, 15 fatalities, which represents 41% of total fatalities, is still far too many for a sector that employs just 6% of the workforce. The next highest sector is construction with 5 deaths in 2018 (14% of the total) so both sectors will remain a key priority for us in 2019. I urge all stakeholders, particularly those in the farming and construction sectors, to focus their efforts to ensure 2019 sees a continuation of this very positive trend.”