The annual report of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has shown that the workplace fatal injury rate in the Republic of Ireland decreased from 2.4 to 2.1 per 100,000 workers between 2015 and 2016. The three-year rolling fatality rate has stayed relatively stable since 2009, following a downward trend between 1999 and 2009.

The HSA said that it received reports of 45 workplace deaths last year. 43 of these involved workers, whilst members of the public accounted for the rest, with the highest number of fatalities occurring in the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector. In this sector, 24 people died due to workplace accidents, with the second highest death rate being in the construction sector.

In 2016 3.9 non-fatal injuries were recorded per 100,000 workers, a minor increase from 3.8 in the previous year. There were 7,957 non-fatal injuries to workers, with around one third of them sustained carrying out manual handling tasks. The largest proportion of non-fatal accidents happened in health and social work.

The report also showed that the HSA completed 10,477 inspections and investigations last year, with 6,497 of these being carried out in the construction, farming and fishing sectors. HSA conducted 17 prosecutions, leading to fines totalling €614,000, and served 369 improvement and 413 prohibition notices. According to the HSA's chief executive, Martin O'Halloran: “Last year was a successful year for the authority although there are certain industry sectors, for example farming, that remain an area of concern.”

O'Halloran went on to say that in addition to a wide range of enforcement activity across a variety of industry sectors, the HSA has also continued to focus on prevention activity by developing several important educational and awareness raising initiatives. It is through the combination of prevention and enforcement activities that the HSA believes it will deliver the best outcomes.

The Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD said: “Although this is a welcome decline of almost 20% on the 2015 figure, there is clearly still much to be done. I urge all employers, large and small, to ensure that the safety and health of their employees, and anyone affected by their work activity, is at the core of their business pursuits. Anything less is unacceptable.”

Editor's note

Wondering why we're covering Republic of Ireland legislation? Watch this space…