Twelve people died in farming-related accidents in 2022, according to provisional data from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

This represents a slight increase on 2021 when 10 people died in accidents associated with agriculture, along with a further fatality in forestry.

The HSA figures, which were compiled up to 29 December, confirm that farming remains by far the most dangerous occupation, accounting for almost half of the 26 workplace fatalities reported in 2022.

Construction was the other occupation which recorded multiple fatalities, with seven workplace deaths in 2022.

While farming-related deaths remain high relative to other sectors, the number of fatalities has fallen sharply over the last two years.

HSA data shows that the number of workplace deaths in farming and forestry has fallen from a recent high of 20 in both 2019 and 2020 to 11 and 12 respectively over the last two years.

The highest number of deaths recorded in farming and forestry over the last decade was 33 in 2014.

This year’s overall figure for workplace fatalities was the lowest since the HSA was established over 30 years ago. It also represented an almost 30% reduction on 2021, when 38 deaths were recorded.

However, the HSA stressed that ongoing investigations could result in the recorded number of fatalities increasing.

Falling from height (nine fatalities) and loss of control of a vehicle or its attachments (seven fatalities) were the leading causes of work-related fatalities in 2022.

Commenting on the data, Mark Cullen, interim HSA chief executive, urged continued vigilance.

“It is positive to see such a substantial decline in work-related fatalities in 2022. However, our view is that every work-related death is preventable and vigilance around health and safety in Irish workplaces is still imperative,” Cullen said.

“We see a large number of fatalities relating to working at height and vehicle handling. We also know from the data that the age group 55 and over represents 69% of all fatalities in 2022, with this age group representing 19% of employees in Ireland. As Ireland’s labour force is aging, we must all look to our workplace practices, and ensure that health and safety is being prioritised across all workforce age groups,” he added.