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Workplace deaths halved, but major injuries up 10%

By Chris McCullough

Published 15/10/2016

The number of fatalities in the workplace has fallen by almost half
The number of fatalities in the workplace has fallen by almost half

The number of fatalities in the workplace has fallen by almost half.

Twelve deaths occurred in the year to April, compared to the previous year's total of 23.

Farming-related accidents accounted for half of these, with six people losing their lives in incidents involving livestock, machinery and falls.

Other deaths included a chimney sweep falling off a roof in Dungannon and a member of the public who fell backwards while in a wheelchair in hospital, sustaining a head injury.

In its latest annual report, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) said the total number of workplace deaths fell from 23 to 12.

Farm-related fatalities were down from nine to six, and construction fatalities dropped from five to two in 2015-16 compared to the previous year.

However, while workplace fatalities decreased, the number of major injuries reported rose 10% on last year, showing that companies cannot afford to be complacent.

HSENI chief executive Keith Morrison said: "Each fatality is a tragic event and is devastating for the family left behind.

"HSENI is committed to preventing loss of life and reducing the number of workplace incidents.

"While it is encouraging that there has been a decrease in the number of workplace fatalities, the overall number of serious incidents remains too high.

"We will continue to focus on those activities and work areas where the most serious injuries are known to occur.

"HSENI will also continue to focus its resources on reducing occupational ill-health, such as occupational lung disorders and cancers, and improving the safety performance across all sectors."

The report highlights the work the body undertakes, ranging from partnering with organisations to provide advice and raise health and safety awareness to its enforcement and inspection role.

During 2015-16, HSENI, in conjunction with local councils, raised the issues of new and inexperienced employees in its New To The Job campaign. It also carried out 5,576 inspections and served some 155 formal enforcement notices where very poor practice was found.

HSENI chairman George Lucas said: "The decrease in workplace deaths is significant and welcome.

"However, the level of major incidents shows there is no room for complacency.

"All employers and employees must realise that workplace accidents are preventable and they must make health and safety a priority within their businesses. In particular, I welcome the fall this year in farm fatalities."

Mr Lucas urged farmers to always think safe before starting any job.

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