The number of people who died in work-related incidents last year rose 13% to 53, despite widespread closure of workplaces due to the pandemic. This was the highest number of fatal incidents since 2015, when 56 people lost their lives.
But there was a decline in non-fatal incidents last year.
The Health and Safety Authority’s (HSA’s) latest annual review of workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities, published last week, said 28 of those killed were self-employed, 12 were employees, and 13 were non-workers.
Once again, the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector saw the largest number of work-related deaths. It was followed by construction, wholesale and retail.
The most common cause of work-related fatalities was loss of control of means of transport, followed by falls from a height.
People aged over 65 accounted for the largest portion of victims, making up a third of all the deaths reported.
Fórsa national secretary Dessie Robinson, who was also a former board member of the HSA, acknowledged the organisation's work in developing the Covid-19 work safely protocol. He said it underpinned workplace safety for hundreds of thousands of workers around the country.
"As we also head into farm safety week next Monday (July 19), I would encourage workers to use the HSA’s online farm risk assessment tool, which recorded over 13,000 registered users last year. It can be used to evaluate safety in this particularly precarious sector so that avoidable accidents can be prevented."
The HSA’s workplace contact unit handled 28,684 queries in 2020, up almost 40% on the previous year. Over a third were requests for information in relation to Covid-19.
HSA chief executive Sharon McGuinness said five of the 13 non-workers who died in work-related fatalities were under 18 years old.
“This drives home the need for appropriate procedures to be put in place to protect everyone in a workplace, be they employees, customers or visitors. Proper risk assessments and health and safety considerations must be implemented in all workplaces to ensure everyone’s safety. No job is worth a loss of life, injury or illness,” she added.
The HSA is urging all employers to implement tailored health and safety policies designed with the unique requirements of older workers’ in mind.
Dessie also reminded members that the HSA offers a range of free tools, courses and supports available and all employers and workers, including the self-employed, were encouraged to avail of them or to contact the HSA for advice.
Read the report HERE and the HSA’s annual report HERE.