Workplace fatalities lowest in 2021

Workplace fatalities lowest in 2021

The Health and Safety Authority has revealed that the number of workplace fatalities in 2021 is the lowest since records began.

  • Work-related fatalities declined 30% to 38 fatalities in 2021 from 54 in 2020, the lowest figure recorded since the Authority was established
  • Farming sees a decline of over 50% with nine fatalities recorded in 2021 compared to 20 in 2020, but still remains one of the most dangerous sectors in which to work
  • Construction records a decline of 38% with 10 fatalities in 2021 compared to 16 in 2020
  • Two children, both aged 16, tragically killed in work-related incidents
  • Loss of control of a vehicle or its attachments (12 fatalities) and falling from a height (10 fatalities) the leading causes of work-related fatalities in 2021
  • Cork, Dublin and Wexford record the highest level of fatalities with 5 in each county
  • No fatalities recorded in 2021 in counties Kilkenny, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Monaghan, Roscommon, Waterford and Westmeath

Releasing provisional annual statistics for 2021 today (Friday 31st December), the Health and Safety Authority welcomed a 30% reduction in work-related fatalities. Thirty-eight people lost their lives in 2021 compared to 54 in 2020 representing the lowest figure recorded since the Authority was established over 30 years ago.

Commenting on the downward trend, Mark Cullen, Chief Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority said;

“It is positive to see such a substantial decline in work-related fatalities in 2021.  However, our view is that every work-related death is preventable. Christmas this year for the families and friends of these 38* individuals will have been a difficult one and our thoughts are with them”.

“Farming continues to be one of the most dangerous sectors in which to work, but a 50% decline on the 2020 level of fatalities is encouraging and a sign that the safety message is getting through. Our work in the farming sector will continue and I would urge all farmers not to become complacent and let’s make sure that this time next year we’re discussing even fewer lives lost”.

In relation to the construction sector, Mr Cullen said, “The construction sector saw a 38% decline in work-related deaths with 10 workers losing their lives in 2021 following a spike in fatalities in 2020. Of course, this is 10 deaths too many and smaller sites and contractors in particular need to ensure that worker safety is at the top of the priority list every day”.

The most common incident causes leading to deaths in workplace settings were the loss of control of a vehicle or its attachments (12) and falling from a height (10), which between them accounted for well over half of all fatalities (58%).

Commenting on the incident triggers, Mr Cullen said;

“We know what’s causing the major incidents leading to loss of life and serious injuries.  Losing control of a workplace vehicle, whether that’s a tractor, excavator or other machine, and falling from a height, are the key triggers.  If employers focus on these two key areas many lives will be saved in 2022.”

He added, “Think about the task you’re about to undertake or asking others to carry out, step back for a minute, plan the work, make sure the right precautions are in place and nobody is putting themselves or others in danger.  If working with heavy machinery or at a height, extra vigilance is needed. Don’t assume the unthinkable will never happen”.

While the farming and construction sectors saw significant declines in fatalities, some sectors experienced an increase. The transportation and storage sector recorded an increase from two deaths in 2020 to 6 in 2021 while the forestry and logging sector saw two deaths following none recorded in the previous year.