HSENI reports fall in workplace deaths last year

Date published: 14 October 2016

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) today published its latest Annual Report which shows that the number of workplace deaths fell considerably during 2015/16.

In 2015/16 workplace fatalities were down 48% to 12 compared to 23 in the previous year.  Farm related fatalities were down from nine to six and construction fatalities fell from five to two in 2015-16 compared to the previous year. 

While workplace fatalities decreased the number of major injuries reported increased 10% on last year, showing that companies cannot afford to be complacent. 

HSENI’s Chief Executive Keith Morrison said:

“Each fatality is a tragic event and is devastating for the family left behind.  HSENI is committed to preventing loss of life and reducing the number of workplace incidents. 

“While it is encouraging that there has been a decrease in the number of workplace fatalities, the overall number of serious incidents remains too high.   We will continue to focus on those activities and work areas where the most serious injuries are known to occur.

“HSENI will also continue to focus its resources on reducing occupational ill-health, such as occupational lung disorders and cancers, and improving the safety performance across all work sectors.”

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 2015-16 HSENI, in conjunction with local councils, raised the issues of new and inexperienced employees in a ‘New to the job campaign’.  HSENI also carried out 5,576 inspections and served 155 formal enforcement notices where very poor practice was found.

HSENI’s Chairman George Lucas commenting on the reported said:

“The decrease in workplace deaths is significant and welcome.   

“However, the level of major incidents shows there is no room for complacency. All employers and employees must realise that workplace accidents are preventable and they must make health and safety a priority within their businesses.

“In particular I welcome the fall this year in farm fatalities.  Since the high number of farm fatalities in 2011 and 2012, and establishment of the Farm Safety Partnership in May 2012, we have seen a reduction of around 50% in the average number of farm fatalities each year. But we must stay focussed to ensure the improvement in recent years is a lasting one.  I would renew my plea to the farming sector to always think SAFE before starting any job.”

Copies of the report, including a ‘Key facts and figures’ summary, can be accessed at the following link:

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body, sponsored by the Department for the Economy. 
  2. HSENI is the lead body responsible for the promotion and enforcement of health and safety at work standards in Northern Ireland.
  3. HSENI works closely with its co-regulators in the District Councils in enforcing health and safety standards and delivering health and safety services.
  4. HSENI’s latest Annual Report and Statement of Accounts covers the period from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016.
  5. See below for “Key Facts and Figures for 2015/16” extracted from the Annual Report.
  6. The Farm Safety Partnership, established in May 2012, comprises the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the Ulster Farmers’ Union, NFU Mutual, the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster and the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association. It is chaired by the Chairman of HSENI and its aim is to increase awareness of farm safety and to reduce work-related fatalities and injuries on farms.
  7. Farm fatality figures for the last 5 years are:
  • 2011/12                  9 fatalities
  • 2012/13                  11 fatalities
  • 2013/14                  4 fatalities
  • 2014/15                  9 fatalities
  • 2015/16                  6 fatalities
  • 2016/17 (to date)  3 fatalities

Key Facts and Figures for 2015/16

In areas where HSENI has enforcement responsibilities, key trends in work-related injuries are as follows:

  • fatalities down 48% to 12, compared to 23 in the previous year
  • fatalities in the agriculture sector down 33% to 6, compared to 9 in the previous year
  • major injuries up 10% on last year and down 3% since a five year peak in 2011-12; and
  • all reportable injuries up by 1.4% on last year to 2,777

During the year, HSENI:

  • continued the Farm Safety Partnership and the implementation of its second Farm Safety Action Plan
  • undertook 767 advisory farm visits and delivered 37 farm safety presentations
  • reached over 8,000 children in 87 rural primary schools with its “Be Aware Kids” farm safety messages
  • involved almost 3,500 pupils from 80 primary schools in its Child Safety on Farms Poster competition and distributed over 39,000 copies of the calendar produced from the winning entries
  • delivered, in conjunction with local councils, 800 inspections focused on the issue of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)
  • in conjunction with local councils, raised the issue of new and inexperienced employees at over 1,000 inspections
  • delivered 74 health and safety presentations to over 2,000 young people under its SafeStart initiative
  • distributed almost 7,000 copies of its “Be Safe When You Start” booklet aimed at young people entering the world of work for the first time
  • completed 15 successful prosecutions, which saw fines totalling just over £278,000
  • achieved UKAS Accreditation for its Scientific Services Unit
  • delivered 5,576 inspections and served 155 formal enforcement notices
  • delivered 262 mentoring visits to start-up and existing small businesses (including 52 new construction companies)
  • dealt with over 1,900 reportable work-related injuries and almost 840 complaints about alleged unsatisfactory working conditions and activities
  • prepared six sets of regulations and initiated consultations on five regulations and Approved Codes of Practice
  • submitted an Annual Equality Report to the Equality Commission
  • organised four key events which attracted some 390 participants
  • held or attended 326 promotional events including seminars, lectures, workshops and presentations
  • distributed over 130,500 free publications giving health and safety advice
  • dealt with 3,862 calls for information via its freephone Helpline; and
  • enabled website visitors to download over 277,000 publication files

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