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NI Workplace deaths decrease but injuries rise

15 November 2018

THE HEALTH and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has published its latest Annual Report which shows a decrease in the number of workplace fatalities but a significant increase in injuries, with major injuries up by 27% on last year and all reportable injuries up by 13%.

In 2017-18 workplace fatalities were down by 31% to 11 compared to 16 in the previous year. Farm-related fatalities increased by one with seven deaths and construction fatalities remained unchanged with three fatalities in 2017-18 as in the previous year.

Chairperson of HSENI Derek Martin stated, “Whilst it is encouraging that workplace deaths are down by 31%, it is disappointing that serious injuries in the workplace are up by 27%. HSENI’s new draft Corporate Plan 2018-2023 focuses, not only on the causes of fatal accidents, but also on those activities and work areas where the most serious injuries and cases of ill health are known to occur. Over the coming years, these are areas which HSENI will collaborate with partners and industry sectors to drive the numbers down.”

Acting chief executive at HSENI Bryan Monson said, “Farming still has a poor safety record, with seven deaths compared to six the previous year. Any one of the four main causes – Slurry, Animals, Falls and Equipment – can cause a serious injury or farm death. Sadly in 2017/18 we are still seeing too many accidents of all types on farms.

“HSENI and its partners in the Farm Safety Partnership will continue our efforts to provide information, advice and support, but it is vital that farmers play their part as well by making safety a priority on their own farms. Many of the risks encountered can be minimised by taking a moment to stop and think about safety and taking simple measures to keep themselves and others on the farm safe - failing to do so ultimately results in tragedy.”

Bryan Monson also added: “No matter what sector people work in,everyone has the right to come home safe and well after a day’s work but the statistics clearly show some parts of some industries need to do more. While HSENI is keen to advise companies on how to meet their legal requirements, we will not hesitate to take enforcement action where there is a clear danger to the health and safety of Northern Ireland’s workforce.” 

The Annual Report highlights the work HSENI undertakes ranging from partnering with organisations to provide advice and raise health and safety awareness to its enforcement and inspection role.

During 2017-18 HSENI, in conjunction with local councils, raised the issue of ‘slips and trips’. HSENI also carried out 6,233 inspections and served 216 formal enforcement notices where very poor practice was found.

Copies of the report, including a ‘Key facts and figures’ summary, can be accessed at the following link:

Key Facts and Figures for 2017-18

In areas where HSENI has enforcement responsibilities, key trends in work-related injuries are as follows:

  • fatalities down 31% to 11, compared to 16 in the previous year;
  • fatalities in the agriculture sector increased by 1 from the previous year with 7 in this sector;
  • major injuries up 27% on last year; and
  • all reportable injuries up by 13% on last year to 1,898.

During the year, HSENI:

  • continued its Farm Safety Partnership work through the second Farm Safety Action Plan and the launch of the FSP Affiliate Scheme;
  • reached over 13,400 children in 104 rural primary schools with its “Be Aware Kids” farm safety messages;
  • involved 3,300 pupils from 74 primary schools in its Child Safety on Farms Poster competition and distributed 41,500 copies of the calendar produced from the winning entries;
  • delivered, in conjunction with local councils, a health and safety initiative to raise awareness of slips and trips;
  • completed seven successful prosecutions, which saw fines totalling £173,750;
  • achieved UKAS Accreditation for its Scientific Services Unit;
  • delivered 6,233 inspections and served 216 formal enforcement notices;
  • dealt with over 1,898 reportable work-related injuries and 869 complaints about alleged unsatisfactory working conditions and activities;
  • prepared three sets of regulations, initiated consultations on four regulations and published two revised Approved Codes of Practice;
  • submitted an Annual Equality Report to the Equality Commission;
  • organised six key events which attracted over 1,000 participants;
  • held or attended 122 promotional events including seminars, lectures, workshops and presentations;
  • distributed over 52,800 free publications giving health and safety advice;
  • dealt with 3,979 calls for information via its Freephone Helpline; and
  • enabled website visitors to download 102,943 publication files.