During 2017 forty-six* people were killed in workplace accidents and 8,381 injuries were reported to the HSA, who during the year carried out 10,477 inspections and accident investigations which resulted in formal enforcement action being taken in 790 cases and written advice notes being issued in 4,301 cases.
The figures are revealed in the HSA’s Annual Report 2016 and Authority’s Summary of Workplace Injury, Illness and Fatality Statistics 2015-2016 reports which were published this morning.
The number of fatalities reported is the lowest since 2009 when 43 people died in workplace accidents. The number of four day plus injures reported is the highest since the year 2000 when 9,108 injuries were reported.
Twenty people were killed in farm accidents and nine in construction accidents. The majority of those killed (51%) were self-employed, while 42% were employees, five percent were members of the public and 2% trainees. Four people died in accidents in the industrial sector (mining/quarrying, manufacturing, gas/electricity and water supply/waste). Four died in fisheries accidents. Two were killed in both the wholesale/retail and administrative support sectors, with one each in transport/storage, health/social work, forestry and other NACE categories.
Non-Fatal Injuries and Illnesses
Of the 8,381 injuries reported to the HSA manual handing at 33% topped the list of causes, followed by falls on the same level (slips/trips/falls) at 20%, aggression/shock/violence 6%, body movement with no physical stress 6%, falls from height 5% and loss of control of transport or equipment 4%. The injuries suffered were to the back (23%), finger (9%), leg (8%), hand (7%), shoulder (7%), arm (6%) and ankle (6%).
The Statistical Report includes figures gathered by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in Quarterly National Household Survey. These figures relate to 2015. During 2015 a total of 16,905 people reported being out of work for four days plus because of a work-related injury, while 18,454 reported being absent because of a work-related illness.
The CSO figures for workdays lost relate to all injuries and illnesses reported, whether the absence was for more or less than four days. The figures show a total of 1,723,104 workdays were lost because of injuries and illnesses (810,899 because of injuries and 912,595 because of illnesses). Figures from the Department of Social Protection’s Occupation Injury Benefits scheme show that during 2016 a total of 631,988 workdays were lost (see HSR. January/February 2017, pg3). The average duration of OIB claims was 60 days.
Inspections and Enforcement
The Authority carried out a total of 10,477 inspections and accident investigations, of which 9,362 were inspections and 1,115 were investigations because of accidents, dangerous occurrences or complaints. Of the 9,362 inspections, 8,156 were carried out under OSH legislation and 1,206 under chemicals legislation.
Practically 45% of the OSH inspections (3,664) were construction inspections and over 25% (2,151) were farm inspections. Of the remaining 30% of OSH inspections 669 inspections were carried out in manufacturing sector, 398 in the wholesale/retail sector, 242 in mines and quarries, 195 in healthcare, 187 in transport/storage, 123 in waste collection and 120 in the public sector. Under chemicals legislation 616 occupational hygiene, 328 transport of dangerous goods/ADR/TPE and 101 COMAH inspections were carried out.
According to the Annual Report enforcement action was taken in 10,202 cases. The term enforcement action can be divided into two categories: formal, which has a statutory legal basis and informal.
The Authority issued 413 prohibition notices and 369 improvement notices/directions. The report does not state how many prosecutions were initiated. However only 17 were completed, one more than in 2015 when 16 were completed, which is the lowest number on record in the modern era. This is not necessarily the fault of the Authority and may be due to court delays and the limited resources of the DPP’s office, as well of course the long-term impact of the cutbacks on the HSA’s resources during the recession.
While described as enforcement actions, written advice and verbal advice is guidance issued to help and prompt employers to take action to improve safety. The Authority issued 4,301 written advice notes and delivered 5,111 verbal advice messages.
The reports have been published on the Authority’s website, www.hsa.ie.* In the Statistical Report, the number of fatalities is recorded as forty-five. After the report was produced an ongoing investigation determined that a fatality was work related, though previously it had not been deemed to be so.