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Deaths at work rise in Northern Ireland

The number of workplace fatalities in Northern Ireland increased by a third in the last year.


The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has published its 2016-17 annual report that shows 18 people were killed in accidents at work in the 12 months to the end of March 2017, up more than a third on the previous 12 months.

The fatality rate for 2016-17 was 0.55 per 100,000 employees. The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) fatal injury statistics for the same period showed that the comparable rate in Great Britain was 0.38 deaths. 

Farm-related incidents accounted for a third of the deaths, the report said. Three workers died in construction, up from two the previous year, while the general manufacturing sector also saw an increase in fatalities, which doubled from one to two. There were three deaths in health and two in “other” work activities. 

Two further deaths occurred in sectors regulated by local councils. 

HSENI’s chief executive Keith Morrison said: “Sadly farming remains Northern Ireland’s most dangerous industry, with another six families devastated in 2016-17. Whilst this is the same figure as 2015-16 […] I am afraid that six farming families have already suffered similar heartache to date in 2017-18 […] We just cannot see a return to the very high number of farm deaths recorded in 2011 and 2012.” (bit.ly/2wYPHRd)

The number of major injuries at work in Northern Ireland fell from 451 in 2014-15 to 404 last year. The HSENI said this is the lowest level in the last five years. 

In addition there were 2,039 cases of employees unable to perform their normal work duties for more than three consecutive days as the result of an injury, and reported to the HSENI under RIDDOR. This is down from 2,313 instances recorded in 2015-16. 

The report showed that 26 workers were killed in falls between 2012-13 and 2016-17, making it the most frequent cause of workplace deaths. Moving vehicles and being struck by an object both accounted for 14 deaths, while eight people were killed by animals.

The report also revealed that the HSENI carried out 5,999 inspections in 2016-17, compared with 5,576 in the previous 12 months, and served 144 enforcement notices, down from 155 in 2015-16.    

It said it took seven prosecutions which led to fines of £100,500.


Keeley Downey was the former assistant editor of IOSH Magazine. Previously she was editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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