Tragic Toll: 20 Lives Lost in Irish Farming, Forestry, and Fishing Sectors in 2023

"Alarming Rise in Workplace Fatalities: Agriculture Sector Bears the Brunt with Farming as the Leading Cause"

Provisional data released by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has revealed that 20 individuals lost their lives in work-related incidents within the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector in 2023. Of these fatalities, 16 were attributed to farming. The data further indicates that half of the individuals who died in work-related incidents within this sector were aged 65 and over. Cork emerged as the county with the highest number of fatalities in this sector, with five work-related deaths occurring in 2023. It is important to note that the HSA has clarified that these figures represent data as of December 31, 2023, and are subject to retrospective changes.

The HSA has emphasized that farming remains the most hazardous sector in Ireland, with a total of 191 fatalities recorded on farms between 2013 and 2022. In 2022 alone, farming accounted for the highest number of work-related fatalities, with 13 deaths reported. This marked a significant decrease from the previous year, with nine farm fatalities recorded in 2021, representing a reduction of over 50% compared to 2020, when 20 lives were lost. Overall, there were 27 work-related deaths across all sectors in 2022, the lowest figure since the establishment of the HSA in 1989.

The HSA has highlighted that vehicles and machinery are the leading causes of farm fatalities in Ireland. Over the past decade, they have accounted for 52% of all farm deaths and 8% of all farm injuries. Notably, there have been 10 farm fatalities involving quad bikes in the past ten years, with two victims under the age of 18 and six over the age of 65. In November, new regulations were implemented in Ireland to ensure the safe use of quad bikes. These regulations mandate that all quad bike operators wear a helmet. Additionally, anyone operating a quad bike must complete an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) training course provided by a registered provider to a Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) standard or equivalent. It is worth mentioning that these regulations are the first of their kind within the European Union.

The HSA’s data highlights the ongoing need for increased safety measures within the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector. Efforts to improve safety practices, particularly in relation to the use of vehicles and machinery, are crucial in reducing work-related fatalities. The HSA continues to work towards raising awareness and promoting safety within the sector, aiming to create a safer working environment for all individuals involved in agriculture, forestry, and fishing.

In conclusion, the latest figures from the HSA underscore the persistent dangers associated with farming in Ireland. While progress has been made in reducing work-related fatalities, there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety and well-being of those working in this sector. Implementing and adhering to safety regulations, such as the compulsory use of helmets and completion of training courses, are essential steps towards preventing future tragedies. The HSA’s commitment to monitoring and improving safety standards will undoubtedly contribute to a safer working environment for all.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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