The overall number of workplace deaths fell by 13% in 2012, according to figures released by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) on Thursday (3rd January). Some 47 people were killed in workplace incidents last year compared with 54 in 2011.The agriculture sector recorded the highest number of deaths for the third year in succession. Some 21 people died in farm-related incidents last year, one less than in 2011. However, 2012 saw an increase in the number of deaths in the construction sector. It accounted for the second highest number of workplace fatalities recording eight deaths during 2012, compared with six in 2011.SIPTU Health and Safety advisor, Sylvester Cronin said: “While we welcome any reduction in the number of annual workplace deaths, the rise in the number of deaths within the construction sector is extremely worrying. “It now appears that occupational safety and health (OSH) standards are sliding backwards in the construction sector, despite all of the improvements that were achieved over a number of years due to cooperation between unions, employers and HSA.”He added: “SIPTU fears that this sliding back of OSH workplace standards will continue to gain momentum because of the reduction in resources allocated to HSA by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton. The corresponding annual figures for OSH related injuries and illnesses will provide a more complete picture of OSH standards when they are published later in the year.”