27 April 2018
By Bryan Smyth
Minister Breen marks international day for those injured or killed in the workplace
Cork as highest number of work related fatalities over 10 year period
Saturday 28th April is “Workers’ Memorial Day”, on this date every year all those injured or killed in work related accidents are remembered.
In Ireland from 2008 to 2017 there were 501 people killed due to work activity with many thousands more seriously injured.
Cork was the county with the highest number of deaths with 90 reported. Just over half (46) of these occurred in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector. The workplace fatality figures for Cork show that 2008 and 2011 were the worst years, with 13 workplace deaths occurring in both years.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) along with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Ibec and the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), are encouraging organisations to mark the occasion with awareness raising initiatives.
Organisations are being encouraged to take this opportunity to review their approach to safety and health in the workplace and to consider initiatives such as in-house training sessions, toolbox talks or to promote safety through, for example, their websites, social media presence, and displays in offices.
Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, whose remit includes workplace safety and health, said that a collaborative approach is vital: “The purpose of Workers’ Memorial Day is to remember accident victims and to collectively reflect on what can be done to prevent future tragedy. Workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility. Safety conditions are more likely to be improved when employers and employees engage proactively to identify risks in the workplace and the measures needed to eliminate them. I am calling on all businesses, trade unions, workers and self-employed persons to strive to make their workplaces safer and healthier.”
Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the HSA said: “If you average out the number of fatal accidents over the last 10 years, nearly every week one person has died due to work activity. Clearly prevention is the best course of action to take. Our message to organisations is simple; protect your people, your business and reputation by identifying hazardous activity and putting plans in place to reduce risks. Don’t wait until an accident or near miss occurs, make safety paramount today.”
Danny McCoy, Chief Executive of Ibec said: “Workers’ Memorial Day is a day for everyone to re-focus on preventing and reducing the incidence of fatalities and injuries. All employers and workers must place their, and their colleagues’, personal safety, health and welfare at the centre of their thinking and organisational culture. Ibec is also committed to supporting the many businesses that are showing their dedication to the Health and Wellbeing of their employees. As Health and Wellbeing becomes more prevalent, Ibec will continue to lead the way by providing our members with the support they need to ensure that workers get the benefit of such initiatives.”
Patricia King, General Secretary of ICTU said: “Ensuring the safety and welfare of all at work can never be taken for granted. It requires ongoing training, greater awareness and better coordination in the workplace. Crucially, it also requires the input of trade unions and worker representatives into the decisions and policies that shape standards in their workplace. Congress would be supportive of any new initiatives or approaches that have as their goal the raising of health and safety standards across all workplaces.”
Tom Parlon, Director General of the CIF said: “As an employer’s representative, we make a major investment in health and safety. Let’s respectfully mark Workers’ Memorial Day 2018, grasping the significance of fallen work colleagues and renew a contract to work tirelessly to prevent further injury and loss of life. All persons in the workplace should engage with their employer on health and safety grounds and take measures to protect work colleagues”.