Despite a decrease, 47 people died in workplace deaths in 2012.
Official figures released by the Health and Safety Authority on Thursday, January 3 show that there was a 13% reduction in the number of workplace deaths during 2012. There were 47 people killed in workplace accidents last year compared to 50 in 2011. And a massive 41 per cent of those or 19 fatalities directly or indirectly involved a vehicle.
Last March, a 54 year-old mechanic died in a mid-western workshop while working underneath the front section of a car. The vehicle was supported by vehicle stands but the car moved off the stands and collapsed on top of him. On an industrial site in the west, a maintenance fitter received crush injuries while carrying out maintenance work to a refuse truck. At another industrial site in the midlands, a non worker was crushed when a vehicle loading ramp fell on him.
Meanwhile a 54 year-old lorry driver died after a truck rolled forward over the victim at a domestic dwelling causing fatal injuries. A motorsport photographer was struck by a rally car that lost control during a stage of the Cavan Stages Rally. The deceased was photographing the car on a closed road as it approached him.
The Agriculture sector recorded the highest number of deaths for the third year in succession, with 21 occurring in 2012 compared to 22 in 2011.
Of the 21 fatalities in the agricultural sector, 11 involved a vehicle. Six of those involved a tractor or equipment used with a tractor. Two involved a quad bike, one man ell from a 4×4 SUV while getting out of it, and finally another man died while inflating a tyre on a dump trailer when the tyre blew out. The age range of these 11 accidents ranged fro a young as 12 up to 87 years of age.
Speaking about the Authority’s efforts to improve performance in the Agriculture sector Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority said, “We have run awareness campaigns, distributed guidance and tailored our inspection programme to help create a culture of safe farming. Some progress has been made but unfortunately, last year 21 families lost loved ones due to farm accidents. Farms are family homes as well as workplaces so farmers need to realise that safe farming is about protecting themselves, their family and their businesses.”
The biggest reduction in fatalities occurred in the Transportation and Storage sector, with 1 reported in 2012 compared to 7 in 2011. There were no fatalities reported in the Mining and Quarrying sector during 2012.
The Construction sector saw an increase in fatalities from 6 in 2011 to 8 in 2012. Three of the eight deaths involved a vehicle. One involved being trapped between the trailer body and chassis of a loaded tipping trailer and another was reversed over by a telescopic handler. The third fatality involved a crane jib making contact with an overhead electric cable and the victim received an electric shock.
Martin O’Halloran says he is concerned about construction safety standards, “The increase in fatalities and feedback from our inspectors indicates there has been, in some areas, a slippage in standards. We carried out 3,000 inspections in the sector in 2012, and we will continue a high level of engagement during 2013.”
Accidents involving vehicles at work accounted for 19 fatalities in 2012. This is consistent with fatal accident trends for previous years. During 2013 the Authority will continue to work closely with the Road Safety Authority and the Gardai with a view to increasing awareness of the many hazards associated with workplace vehicles.
Of the 47 people killed in workplace accidents in 2012, there were 4 non-worker fatalities, 2 of those involved children and the other 2 were members of the public.
Each year there are about 7,000 non-fatal injuries reported to the Authority. Speaking about the Authority’s initiatives to reduce non-fatal accidents Martin O’Halloran said, “The Health and Social work sector has experienced a particularly high level of non-fatal injuries in recent years. Incidents involving manual handling and slips, trips & falls tend to be the most common cause of injury. We’re now halfway through our 5 year plan to reduce work-related accidents and ill-health in this sector and will continue to work with the relevant bodies to help address the key hazards.”
Looking forward to 2013 Martin O’Halloran said that there are significant opportunities ahead, “Ireland is highly rated when occupational safety performance is benchmarked against that of our EU partners, so this year the EU Presidency will give us an opportunity to show leadership and tackle issues that affect workers across the EU.”
May 31st is an important date for the chemicals industry when provisions of EU chemicals legislation REACH come into place and Martin O’Halloran says that, “We have been preparing Irish industry for this date and we will continue to ensure that the Irish Chemicals industry is well positioned to meet the legislative challenges ahead and support the national competitiveness and innovation agenda.”
Later in January the HSA will be launching its Programme of Work for 2013 and a new strategy for workplace safety and health and safe use of chemicals for the next 3 years.