HSENI reports increase in workplace deaths but number of serious injuries down by 13%

Date published: 22 September 2017

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) today published its latest Annual Report which shows an increase in the number of workplace fatalities but a significant decrease in injuries, with major injuries down 13% on last year and all reportable injuries down 12%.

In 2016/17 workplace fatalities were up 33% to 16 compared to 12 in the previous year.  Farm related fatalities remained the same with six deaths and there were three construction fatalities in 2016/17 compared to two in the previous year. 

HSENI’s Chief Executive Keith Morrison said: “Workplace deaths are heart-breaking and unacceptable. These events impact so many people and cause such devastation to families, communities, work colleagues, employers and the emergency services who attend these incidents. We simply must all continue to work as hard as we can to stop these often easily preventable tragedies.

Sadly farming remains Northern Ireland’s most dangerous industry with another six families devastated in 2016/17. Whilst this is the same figure as 2015/16, continuing the overall downward trend in deaths since the establishment of the Farm Safety Partnership, I am afraid that six farming families have already suffered similar heartache to date in 2017/18. Everyone will agree we just cannot see a return to the very high number of farm deaths recorded in 2011 and 2012".

In relation to the number of serious injuries recorded in 2016/17, Keith Morrison added: “All too often, and understandably, the focus can be solely on workplace deaths. However, what can be more frightening is the number of people seriously injured each year at work. Especially given that the difference between a major, life-changing, injury and a fatality can be just a few seconds or inches. That is why HSENI’s focus is on trying to reduce the number of serious injuries in the workplace".

“It is in this context that I am encouraged to see a 13% reduction in major injuries in the past year – although of course this reduction will be no comfort to those who were badly injured. There is absolutely no room for complacency in any workplace and we must all continue to do whatever we can to avoid serious injury and ill health in our workplaces”.

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 2016/17 HSENI, in conjunction with local councils, raised the issue of ‘safe skin’.  HSENI also carried out 5,999 inspections and served 144 formal enforcement notices where very poor practice was found.

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

HSENI annual report for 2016-17

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 2016 to 31 March 2017.

5. See below for “Key Facts and Figures for 2016-17” 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 Chief Executive 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:

2012-13               11 fatalities

2013-14                4 fatalities

2014-15                9 fatalities

2015-16                6 fatalities

2016-17                6 fatalities

2017-18 (to date) 6 fatalities (prov)


Key Facts and Figures for 2016/17

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

  • fatalities up 33% to 16, compared to 12 in the previous year
  • fatalities in the agriculture sector remained the same as the previous year with 6 in this sector;
  • major injuries down 13% on last year and the lowest in five years; and
  • all reportable injuries down by 12% on last year to 1,680

During the year, HSENI:

  • continued its Farm Safety Partnership work through the second Farm Safety Action Plan and the launch of the FSP Affiliate Scheme
  • reached over 7,800 children in 84 rural primary schools with its “Be Aware Kids” farm safety messages
  • involved 5,000 pupils from 100 primary schools in its Child Safety on Farms Poster competition and distributed 40,000 copies of the calendar produced from the winning entries
  • delivered, in conjunction with local councils, a health and safety initiative on safe skin
  • distributed over 2,200 copies of its “Be Safe When You Start” booklet aimed at young people entering the world of work for the first time
  • completed seven successful prosecutions, which saw fines totalling £100,500
  • achieved UKAS Accreditation for its Scientific Services Unit
  • delivered 5,999 inspections and served 144 formal enforcement notices
  • dealt with over 1,680 reportable work-related injuries and 813 complaints about alleged unsatisfactory working conditions and activities
  • prepared eight sets of regulations and published one revised Approved Code of Practice
  • submitted an Annual Equality Report to the Equality Commission
  • organised six key events which attracted some 430 participants
  • held or attended 221 promotional events including seminars, lectures, workshops and presentations
  • distributed 87,285 free publications giving health and safety advice
  • dealt with 5,119 calls for information via its freephone Helpline; and
  • enabled website visitors to download 94,052 publication files

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