According to figures recently released by the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland (HSA), vehicles are the leading cause of death in Irish workplaces.
The source of the aforementioned figures is the Authority’s 2018 Annual Report, showing that there were 39 work-related fatalities reported to the HSA in 2018, compared to 48 in 2017, a decline of 19%. But the single biggest danger last year came from vehicles in the workplace, with 17 lives lost across all industries last year.
The farming sector suffered 15 work-related deaths in 2018, compared to 25 in 2017, a decline of 40%, while construction had five work-related deaths.
Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, said workplace deaths cause great trauma and personal suffering for families every year. While welcoming the decline in workplace fatalities, he said: “We should remember that any improvement in numbers provides little comfort to the family, friends and colleagues of the dozens of Irish people whose lives were cut short this year while doing their job.”
Dr Sharon McGuinness, Chief Executive Officer of the HSA, said that the fatality statistics show how vehicles are now the biggest threat to life in the Irish workplace. “Whether it’s a farmer driving a tractor in a yard, or a truck driver delivering a load, across all sectors, incidents involving vehicles accounted for almost half - or 44% - of all deaths last year. The worrying trend is continuing with six deaths provisionally recorded so far this year in the transportation sector” she said.
Tractors were involved in the majority of workplace vehicle incidents last year and claimed six lives but cars, refuse trucks and forklifts were also involved in fatalities.
Expressing concern at the devastation caused by work tragedies on bereaved families, Dr McGuinness urged everyone to be aware of the risks posed by moving vehicles in all workplaces. A change in mindset is required to reduce the numbers of workers dying or suffering serious injury as a result of workplace vehicles: complacency is costing lives.
“Drivers at work often forget about the same hazards that they look out for when driving on the road, like properly maintaining their vehicles, and paying attention to pedestrians when reversing. These checks could help prevent a fatal catastrophe to themselves or a work colleague,” Dr McGuinness concluded.