43 work-related fatalities in 2023 recorded by Health & Safety Authority

Data just released by the Health & Safety Authority (HSA) reveals that 43 people lost their lives in work-related incidents in 2023.

The HSA statistics for last year indicate a continued high level of fatalities in farming (16 fatalities) and construction (11 fatalities) with both sectors accounting for over two thirds of all fatalities in 2023.

The work-related fatalities in these sectors relate to high-risk work including working with vehicles and falls from height.

Summary of statistics reported by HSA are as follows:

  • In the last ten years (2014-2023), the HSA records show an overall decrease in the rate of fatalities per 100,000 workers in Ireland from the rate of 2.8 in 2014 to 1.6 in 2023.
  • Fatal incidents happened to victims from all age groups, however, the highest number involved people aged 55 and over, with 22 fatalities in 2023 compared to 10 in 2022.
  • Of the 43 fatalities in 2023, the self-employed accounted for 53%.
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing accounted for 20 fatalities with farming accounting for 16 of these fatalities in 2023.
  • The construction sector accounted for the second highest fatalities reported in 2023, with 11 reported work-related fatalities.
  • Working with vehicles (13 fatalities) and falling from height (11 fatalities) were the leading causes of work-related fatalities in 2023.
  • Of the 43 fatalities in 2023, 39 were male and 4 were female.
  • Co. Cork accounted for the highest records of fatalities in 2023 (7 fatalities), followed by Co. Dublin (5 fatalities) and Co. Kerry (5 fatalities).

(* A breakdown of 2023 work-related fatalities is representative of data on 31st December 2023 and is subject to retrospective changes.)

Commenting on the HSA’s data on fatalities in Irish workplaces, Mark Cullen, Assistant Chief Executive, HSA said, “As we reflect on the last year and the 43 people who lost their lives in work-related incidents, we first and foremost think of their families and friends who have tragically lost a loved one in 2023. Although we welcome the decrease in work-related fatalities rates in the last ten years from the rate of 2.8 in 2014 to 1.6 in 2023, we still see a continued high level of fatalities in certain sectors. Farming, a high-risk sector, continues to account for the highest number of fatalities (37%)with over half of victims aged 65 and over. We know many farmers are self-employed and often work alone. Therefore, there is a clear need for them to consider the work they plan on carrying out themselves, and where they may need assistance from qualified and trained workers, ensuring the appropriate risk assessments are completed in advance of the work being carried out and that the appropriate preventative measures are in place to ensure those carrying out the work can do so safely.”

With the HSA 2023 records showing a significant percentage of fatalities relating to the self-employed, with this group accounting for 53% (23) of all fatalities in the last year, Mark Cullen added; “The self-employed, along with all duty holders and employers, have a responsibility when it comes to health and safety. Last year we saw that the self-employed accounted for over half of all reported fatalities (23). Undertaking risk assessments and making sure the appropriate controls are in place are critically important to ensuring a safe workplace and will undoubtedly protect workers.

The HSA records also showed incident triggers such as being struck by vehicles/vehicle collisions (13 fatalities) and falls from height (11 fatalities) continue to be the leading causes of work-related fatalities in Ireland.

Mark Cullen, continued “Where there is a known risk, such as working with vehicles and machinery or working at height, duty holders must take preventative actions to ensure they themselves or workers are safe. We are urging the self-employed, employers and duty holders to prioritise health and safety in their workplaces in 2024 to ensure fatalities don’t happenEvery work-related fatality is preventable.

The HSA have recently published its Programme of Work for 2024 which will focus on particular work activities and workplaces through a range of proactive inspections and targeted campaigns in 2024, including in the high-risk sectors such as agriculture and construction. The Programme of Work also highlights key areas of focus in relation to changing workforce demographics and technological and environmental impacts on Irish workers.

On publishing the HSA’s Programme of Work 2024 Conor O’Brien, Chief Executive, HSA, stated “We are committed to collaboration, consultation and communication with all stakeholders, across all industries and will continue to work with partners in high priority sectors such as agriculture and construction. The Authority is looking ahead to the future as we take account of changing work, workers and workplaces in Ireland. We have and will continue to develop supports and resources to address the evolving nature of the work environment including impacts related to psychosocial hazards, digitalisation, sustainability, and changing workforce demographics.”