Elderly farmers most at risk from fatal work accidents

editorial image
Share this article

Elderly farmers are more likely to be involved in a fatal work related accidents, new statistics have revealed.

The Health and Safety Authority in the Republic of Ireland has today released figures for the number of work related fatal accidents reported during 2017. There were 47 fatal accidents last year compared to 46 in 2016. The youngest fatal accident victim was one year of age, while the eldest was 94.

Some of the key fatality statistics are:

- There were 24 deaths in agriculture, making it the eight year in a row that this sector recorded the highest number of work related fatalities.

- The construction and transport sectors had the next highest number of fatalities with six each.

- Across all sectors, accidents involving vehicles accounted for 21 of all fatalities in 2017. Falls from height (six) was the next most common cause.

- Most fatalities (28) involved 18-65 years old males; there were 14 men over 65 killed in the agriculture sector.

- Dublin Cork and Mayo were the counties with the highest number of fatalities in 2017, with six each.

- There was one child fatality (agriculture).

- Of 47 fatalities reported, 18 were self-employed persons, 15 were employees, seven non-workers and seven family workers.

HSA Chief Executive, Martin O’Halloran, says that a collective effort is required to reduce the high level of farm accidents.

He added: “Everyone involved in farming must aim to make whatever changes are necessary, to work practices, to stop these accidents occurring each year. That means safety must be paramount when carrying out any work, especially with tractors or farm machinery.”

He said that elderly farmers are particularly at risk: “We have seen fourteen elderly farmers killed this year, many of them working alone at the time of the accident. Finding supports for elderly farmers or farmers working alone is something that needs to be addressed. The Health and Safety Authority will continue to do its part through inspection, awareness raising and education but safe farming has to happen every day, not just after an inspection. We need to make this a fundamental part of farming culture, until it is we will continue to have devastation and carnage on our farms.”

Mr O’Halloran said many serious accidents involve vehicles.

He added: “We have over two million people at work and this is a positive development. However, this will lead to increased traffic and movement of vehicles in workplaces creating hazards that must be managed. Regardless of the sector, where we have people and vehicles moving in close proximity, the danger is elevated. These dangers are greatly reduced when everyone is aware of the hazards and safe systems of work are implemented.”