The Border region of Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Monaghan and Cavan had Ireland’s lowest rate of workplace injuries last year, according to a new report.
The rate of injury in the Border region in 2020 was 6.5 per 1,000 workers, while the rate of work-related illness in the region was 22 per 1,000.
The Health and Safety Authority has welcomed a 30% reduction in work-related fatalities nationwide, but the fact remains that 38 people lost their lives last year in work-related incidents. This is compared to 54 in 2020 and represents the lowest figure recorded since the Authority was established over 30 years ago.
The most common causes leading to deaths in workplace settings were the loss of control of a vehicle or its attachments (11) and falling from a height (11), which between them accounted for over half of all fatalities (58%).
The Health and Safety Authority published its Annual Review of Workplace Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities 2020-2021 as European Week for Safety, Health and Work commences.
Despite the upheaval of the normal course of work and life throughout 2020 and 2021, the numbers of non-fatal incidents related to work activity has remained high. A total of 8,279 non-fatal incidents were reported to the HSA in 2021, an 8% increase on the figure for 2020, which is likely to be due in part to revived economic activity in 2021.
According to Dr Sharon McGuinness, Chief Executive Officer of the Health and Safety Authority, “I welcome the fact that 38 fatalities in 2021 is the lowest number on record, however, our view is that all of these fatalities are foreseeable and preventable. Much progress has been made but there is still a lot of work to be done. There have been improvements, but unfortunately the farming and construction sectors are still over-represented in our fatality figures accounting for half of all work-related fatalities between them. Both sectors will continue to be key priorities for us.”
Of the 38 people who died in workplace incidents, all but one were men. Commenting on the disparity of how workplace incidents affect men and women differently, Dr McGuinness added, “Bearing in mind that more fatal incidents occurred to self-employed people than employees in seven of the ten years from 2012 to 2021, it is clear that there is a worrying trend of serious injuries and fatalities in older, self-employed men involved in manual work. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this cohort may consider health and safety as ‘not necessary’ or that they ‘know what they’re doing’, but there is a clear issue here that needs to be addressed.”
A copy of the HSA’s Annual Review of Workplace Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities 2020-2021 can be downloaded here.