According to figures released by Ireland's Health and Safety Authority (HSA), there has been a rise in the number of fatal accidents on farms in Ireland, with 24 work-related fatalities happening in the country's agricultural sector in 2017. This accounts for more than half of the overall total of 47 across all sectors.

It was the second year running in which deaths in agriculture had risen, as there were 21 deaths recorded in 2016, and 18 in 2015. The Chair of the Ireland Branch of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), Liam Howe, said that the figure was of “serious concern”, and highlighted that 14 of those killed in the agricultural sector were men aged over 65. He stated that the rising pension age means that questions are raised regarding how we look after an ageing working population.

The Chair of IOSH's Rural Industries Section of the Ireland Branch, Aine English, said: “It is a complex sector, with a high number of elderly workers compared to others. With this in mind, the challenge is to actively support the HSA's and The Farm Safety Partnership Committees Action Plan's efforts to review future developments to reduce these figures. IOSH's Rural Industries Group members in Ireland will explore all avenues to support the agricultural community to reduce farm fatalities.”

HSA Chief Executive Martin O'Halloran stated that it is the responsibility of everyone involved in farming to make the necessary changes to work practices to prevent these accidents. He said: “We have over two million people at work and this is a positive development. However, this will lead to increased traffic and movement of vehicles in workplaces creating hazards that must be managed. Regardless of the sector, where we have people and vehicles moving in close proximity, the danger is elevated. These dangers are greatly reduced when everyone is aware of the hazards and safe systems of work are implemented.”

After agriculture, the construction and transport sectors had the next highest number of fatalities, with six each. Across all sectors, accidents involving vehicles accounted for 21 deaths, whilst falls from height killed six people.

Editor's note

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