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Workplace deaths down overall but more people being killed on farms

Workplace deaths have fallen by more than a fifth, health and safety chiefs have said.

However, deaths on farms are increasing despite safety campaigns aimed at the agricultural industry.

A total of 44 people were killed while working during 2016, the latest figures show.

The number is down 12 - or 21% - from the 56 deaths reported in the previous year.

But there has been a rise in the number of deaths on farms - traditionally one of the worst workplaces for accidents.

There were 21 agricultural-related deaths last year compared with 18 in 2015.

Martin O'Halloran, chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority, said there is a systemic problem with farm safety.

"The vast majority of sectors experienced a reduction in fatalities last year," he said.

"However, it is clear that there is a systemic problem with safety on our farms.

"For the last seven years the agriculture sector has recorded the highest number of fatalities.

"Safety must become an integral part of farming culture, rather than an afterthought."

Construction fatalities were down to nine from 11 in 2015.

There was also a reduction in the number of fishing-related deaths down to three from five the previous year.

Accidents involving vehicles accounted for nearly half (20) of all workplace deaths last year.

Co Cork had the worst record, with eight reported workplace deaths, followed by Kerry and Meath with four each.

Mr O'Halloran said last year saw the lowest number of workplace deaths since 2009.

"It is especially important that as the numbers at work increase, accident rates are moving in the opposite direction," he said.

"Nevertheless we must not forget the many families that experienced devastation and tragedy in 2016.

"It was a time when they lost loved ones due to events that should have been prevented."

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