Dead and injured workers remembered on third Workers’ Memorial Day

520 people killed and many others injured in work-related accidents 2007 – 2016

Minister Breen calls for an increased focus on safety in the workplace - everyone has a role to play and everyone can benefit

Friday 28th April 2017

The third annual Workers’ Memorial Day Ireland was marked today by the Government, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Congress), the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), Ibec and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) collectively. The day is the national and annual commemorative event to remember people killed, injured and bereaved through workplace accidents.

This year’s ceremony was held at the Hugh Lane Gallery with Minister for Employment and Small Business Pat Breen T.D. representing the Government. Congress was represented by General Secretary Patricia King, the Construction Industry Federation by Director General Tom Parlon, Ibec by its Director of Employer Relations Maeve McElwee and the HSA by its Chief Executive Martin O’Halloran.

In the 10 year period between 2007 and 2016, 520 people were killed in work-related accidents in Ireland and many thousands more badly injured.

Minister Breen said, “Now in its third year, Workers’ Memorial Day is recognised as making a valuable contribution to raising awareness of the issue of workplace health and safety. As employment rates continue to rise, there is an increased need to highlight the importance of health and safety and the collective and individual responsibility to provide healthy and safe work environments. Any single death or injury is one too many. The continued partnership between Congress, the Construction Industry Federation, Ibec and the HSA provides leadership and support that raises awareness and helps to reduce fatalities and accidents. We must continue to strive towards high standards of safety in all workplaces - not only for the benefit of the existing workforce but for future generations of workers as well."

Patricia King, Secretary General of Congress said, “Congress has been concerned for some time at the apparent leniency of some of the penalties imposed on employers for serious breaches of health and safety legislation. There has also been what we regard as inappropriate use of ‘poor box’ donations in judgements handed down. Large fines send a clear signal that the health, safety and welfare of workers must be treated seriously and we welcome recent judgements that are moving in that direction.”

Tom Parlon, Director General of the Construction Industry Federation said, “The Construction industry stands firm in our commitment that everyone is entitled to a safe working environment and to return home unharmed each day. We continue to take our commitment to health and safety programmes seriously. These initiatives are a priority for CIF members and we strongly support the currently regulatory regime.”

Maeve McElwee, Director of Employer Relations of Ibec said, “As a founding partner to Ireland’s Workers’ Memorial Day, we are calling on employers to redouble their engagement with health and safety issues. Awareness among our members is high but even one accident or death at work is one too many. As well as the costs to the person and their family, each accident impacts on the business affected and the wider Irish economy. Safe workplaces provide a positive and productive working environment for all.”

Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority said, “Progress is being made, the worker fatality rate has been decreasing steadily over the last 10 years and reported non-fatal accidents are also falling. The collaboration of Congress, Ibec and the CIF is crucial if we want to continue these positive trends and Workers’ Memorial Day has become an important national day of commemoration as a result of their support. By holding this event each year it signals our collective determination to ensure safer and healthier workplaces for all.”