SIPTU is dismayed that the overall number of work-related fatalities remained at the same high level in 2015 as the previous year and that incidents in the construction industry showed a significant increase. Figures released by the Health and Safety Authority today (Wednesday, 6th January) show that 55 people were killed in work-related accidents in 2015. This is exactly the same number of fatalities that occurred in 2014. Fatalities in agriculture were down by 40%, with 18 deaths reported compared to 30 in 2014. However, construction fatalities increased from eight in 2014 to 11 in 2015 and the fishing sector also saw an increase from one in 2014 to five in 2015. SIPTU Health and Safety Advisor, Sylvester Cronin, said: “Between 2009 and 2014 there has been an almost steady increase in the annual rate of work-related fatalities. It is very disappointing that 2015 did not see a decline in these numbers. “It is alarming that there has been such a significant increase in work-related fatalities in the construction sector. In the past the construction sector had very high levels of deaths due to accidents on building sites. We need to be very careful that we do not have a creeping return to those levels.” He added: “Increasingly we find that employers are becoming more and more hostile to occupational safety and health. Evidence of this can be found in the total lack of safety representatives within employments on building sites, workers are fearful for their jobs if they take on the roles. “Furthermore, what is very worrying is that two-thirds of the overall work-related workplace fatalities happened in small employments. This is a segment of employments where the European Commission want to make occupational safety and health legislation lighter. This reduction in safety and health legislation in small enterprises will result in increasing risks to workers in these workplaces. Workers in Ireland and Europe need to be aware of what is happening to occupational safety and health and organise to protect themselves.”