The number of workplace fatalities has dropped, however, there has been a significant increase in injuries, the latest figures by Northern Ireland's Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) show.

Across all sectors, major injuries were up 27% on last year and all reportable injuries up 13% over the last year.

In 2017-18 workplace fatalities were down 31% to 11 compared to 16 in the previous year.

Derek Martin, chairman of HSENI, stated: “Whilst it is encouraging that the number of workplace deaths is down by 31%, it is disappointing that serious injuries in the workplace are up 27%.

"HSENI’s new draft Corporate Plan 2018-2023 focuses, not only on the causes of fatal accidents but also on those activities and work areas where the most serious injuries and cases of ill health are known to occur.

"Over the coming years, these are areas which HSENI will collaborate with partners and industry sectors to drive the numbers down.”

Farm-related incidents

Farm-related fatalities increased by one with seven deaths and construction fatalities remained unchanged with three fatalities in 2017-18 as in the previous year.

HSENI’s acting chief executive Bryan Monson said: “Farming still has a poor safety record, with seven deaths compared to six the previous year."

Farm fatality figures for the last five years:

  • 2013-14: 4 fatalities;
  • 2014-15: 9 fatalities;
  • 2015-16: 6 fatalities;
  • 2016-17: 6 fatalities;
  • 2017-18: 7 fatalities;
  • 2018-19: 6 fatalities to-date.

"Any one of the four main causes – Slurry, Animals, Falls and Equipment – can cause a serious injury or farm death. Sadly in 2017-18, we are still seeing too many accidents of all types on farms," Monson explained.

“HSENI and its partners in the Farm Safety Partnership will continue our efforts to provide information, advice and support, but it is vital that farmers play their part as well by making safety a priority on their own farms.

Many of the risks encountered can be minimised by taking a moment to stop and think about safety and taking simple measures to keep themselves and other on the farm safe - failing to do so ultimately results in tragedy.

"No matter what sector people work in, everyone has the right to come home safe and well after a day’s work but the statistics clearly show some parts of some industries need to do more.

"While HSENI is keen to advise companies on how to meet their legal requirements, we will not hesitate to take enforcement action where there is a clear danger to the health and safety of Northern Ireland’s workforce.”

The Annual Report highlights the work HSENI undertakes ranging from partnering with organisations to provide advice and raise health and safety awareness to its enforcement and inspection role.

During 2017-18 HSENI, in conjunction with local councils, raised the issue of ‘slips and trips’. HSENI also carried out 6,233 inspections and served 216 formal enforcement notices where very poor practice was found.