The number of people killed in work-related accidents fell by 23% in 2018 when compared with the year before, new figures have shown.
According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), 37 people were killed in work accidents last year, which is the lowest figure recorded since the HSA was established in 1989.
Fifteen of these deaths were in the farming sector, which has consistently been the most dangerous sector to work in here. However, this marked a 40% reduction in the number of farm-related deaths recorded in 2017.
While welcoming this improvement in the farming sector, HSA chief executive, Dr Sharon McGuinness, insisted that 15 deaths is ‘still far too many for a sector that employs just 6% of the workforce'.
"The next highest sector was construction with five deaths in 2018 (14% of the total), so both sectors will remain a key priority for us in 2019. I urge all stakeholders, particularly those in the farming and construction sectors, to focus their efforts to ensure 2019 sees a continuation of this very positive trend," she commented.
Dr McGuinness pointed out that in the early 1990s, the number of work-related deaths was much higher, but due to the efforts of employers, employees and key stakeholders, ‘there has been a huge improvement in health and safety standards since then'.
"However, with 37 people losing their lives in work related activity in 2018 there is clearly still more to be done. The economy is thriving with thousands of new workers joining the workforce each month. There are challenges ahead such as Brexit and also the fact that many employers are facing a skills shortage in certain sectors.
"In this context, it is important that worker health and safety stays on the priority list. Safe and healthy employees are the backbone of any successful enterprise," she added.