Belfast Telegraph

Workplace deaths: New report shows 16 killed at work in the past year

New figures from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) show 16 people were killed at work in the period covering 2016/2017.

It marks an increase of one-third on the 2015/2016 period when 12 people were killed.

The annual report from HSENI covers a period up the end of March this year.

Half of those killed at work in the period were self-employed farmers.

The youngest of these was a 30-year-old farmer, who was killed in November 2016 after his clothes became caught in the grain auger of a combine harvester.

There were three people killed in construction accidents in the past year, and two workers from the food manufacturing industry killed.

Speaking about the figures, HSENI's chief executive Keith Morrison said: "Workplace deaths are heart-breaking and unacceptable.

"These events impact so many people and cause such devastation to families, communities, work colleagues, employers and the emergency services who attend these incidents. We simply must all continue to work as hard as we can to stop these often easily preventable tragedies."

The number of farm deaths are down from a peak in the two-year period between 2011 and 2013, when 23 workers were killed on farms.

Mr Morrison credited the downward trend in deaths to the establishment of the Farm Safety Partnership, a multi-agency body made up of various government departments, unions and farming associations which focuses on increasing awareness around farm safety.

The annual report also shows a drop of 13% in the number of major injuries - injuries that required a member of staff to miss more than three days of work - in the 2015/2016 period, and a drop of 13% for all reportable injuries.

For the 2016/2017 period the number of major injuries fell to 357 from 411 for the previous period, while the number of reportable injuries dropped from 1,900 to 1,680.

On the decrease in the number of serious injuries at work, Mr Morrison said: "All too often, and understandably, the focus can be solely on workplace deaths. However, what can be more frightening is the number of people seriously injured each year at work. Especially given that the difference between a major, life-changing injury and a fatality can be just a few seconds or inches."

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