The figures published in early January by the Irish Health and Safety Authority (HSA) show a 17% increase in work-related deaths in 2014, i.e. 55 fatal accidents versus 47 in 2013.
Not only is this the worst result since 2008, but “what is most alarming is that 54% are traffic accidents”, said Martin O’Halloran, director of the HSA. It is the most elderly age groups which are affected most, with thirteen deaths in the 65-99 age group, eleven in the 55-64 age group and ten in the 45-54 age group. Then come the under-17 and 25-34 age groups (seven deaths each), the 35-44 age group (four deaths) and the 18-24 age group (three deaths).
Although fatal accidents declined in the construction sector (from 11 to 8 deaths), fishing (from 5 to 1) and transport/storage (from 4 to 3), the agriculture sector, for its part, posted an 87% increase, with 30 people killed in 2014 compared with 16 in 2013. This is the fifth year in which this sector has registered more than one out of every two cases of fatal accidents (55%). “The number of fatal accidents that occurred on farms last year is the largest in these last twenty years” deplored Martin O’Halloran.
Following the publication of these figures, the person in charge of occupational health and safety in the Irish trade union confederation SIPTU, Sylvester Cronin, called on the Irish government to “put a stop to budget cuts in the relevant departments” of the HSA.