Workplace accidents increase by 30 per cent in a year
THE number of workplace deaths in Northern Ireland has risen by more than 30 per cent in the past year, it has emerged.
Investigators at the Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) confirmed that 16 people were killed doing their job during 2016/17 compared with 12 the previous year.
Farming related accidents were linked to six deaths - the same figure as last year - while there were three in the construction industry.
While the HSENI annual report covers the period up until March 31 this year, there have been a number of deaths since then with a 67-year-old Co Armagh woman dying after being hit by a cow on her farm earlier this month.
HSENI chief executive Keith Morrison said these were "easily preventable tragedies" and that farming remained the north's "most dangerous industry."
Mr Morrison noted however that the number of serious injuries had dropped by 13 per cent.
Almost 6,000 inspections were carried out by the regulatory body over the past year, in which 'very poor' conditions were discovered in 144 workplaces.
Mr 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.
"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. That is why HSENI's focus is on trying to reduce the number of serious injuries in the workplace.
"It is in this context that I am encouraged to see a 13 per cent reduction in major injuries in the past year – although of course this reduction will be no comfort to those who were badly injured. There is absolutely no room for complacency in any workplace and we must all continue to do whatever we can to avoid serious injury and ill health in our workplaces."
Following the high death rate in the north's agricultural industry five years ago, the Farm Safety Partnership was set up.
In 2011/12, there were eleven farming-related fatalities that included the deaths of three members of the Spence family who lost their lives on the family farm in Hillsborough, Co Down as they tried to help eachother.
Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, 22, his brother Graham, 30, and father Noel, 58, were overcome by slurry gas.