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A Review of Work-Related Fatalities in Agriculture in Ireland 2011-2020


This report from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) focuses on the characteristics of the 208 work-related fatalities in Agriculture and is based on comprehensive data on all work-related incidents that resulted in a fatality.

It highlights that farming involves diverse kinds of work including driving vehicles on rough ground, working with large animals such as cattle, maintaining heavy machinery, repairing farm buildings, storing heavy loads, dealing with liquids such as slurry, working with gas-emitting materials, and felling trees. These tasks, if not managed properly, expose farmers to a wide range of dangers.

More work-related fatalities occur in Agriculture than any other economic sector in Ireland. In the ten-year period 2011 to 2020, 208 of the 495 work-related fatalities in the Republic of Ireland occurred in Agriculture, says the report.

While fatalities in all other economic sectors have declined from peaks in the 2000s, the number of fatalities in Agriculture has increased, with more work-related fatalities in Agriculture in 2014 and 2017 than in all other economic sectors combined.

Key findings

  • Age: victims of work-related fatalities in Agriculture were disproportionately older people: 47% of victims were aged 65 years or older. Twenty-one work-related fatalities involved people under 18 years of age, of whom 16 were non-workers.

  • Vehicles: almost half of all work-related fatalities in Agriculture involved vehicles (93 incidents). Thirty-nine work-related fatalities involved vehicles striking people on foot or on bicycles. Of these, 23 occurred when parked vehicles rolled because the handbrake was faulty or insufficiently engaged.

  • Cattle: there were 37 work-related fatalities involving cattle. Most were caused by attacks by cows with calves (13), by the victim being knocked over by cattle without aggression (nine), or attacks by bulls (six). Most victims of work-related fatalities involving cattle were older people, with 70% occurring to those aged 65 years or older.

  • Falls: there were 21 work-related fatalities in Agriculture involving falls. The most common of these involved victims falling through fragile roofs.

  • Machinery: Seventeen work-related fatalities in Agriculture involved machinery. A large number of different types of agricultural machinery were involved, including compressed air gates in sheds, diet feeders, a baler and a topper.

  • Loads: fifteen work-related fatalities involved the collapsing of loads onto the victim. Seven involved the falling of bales and three involved the slipping of vehicles under maintenance onto the victim. The most common type of incident with bales involved the victim working in a shed when stored bales became dislodged.

  • Drowning: thirteen work-related fatalities involved drowning, with eight victims drowning in slurry. In four cases victims fell into temporarily opened slurry tanks during agitation or extraction of slurry. Other drowning incidents involved a water tank, a pond and a river, as well as a silage pit and liquid feed tank.

The Report is available here.

Health and Safety Authority August 2021

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