MAYO had the joint highest number of workplace fatalities in the country in 2017. Six fatalities were recorded in the county, with four of those occurring in the R116 Coast Guard rescue helicopter disaster.
According to the Health and Safety Authority’s figures for the number of work-related fatal accidents reported during 2017, a total of 47 fatal accidents occurred last year, compared to 46 in 2016.
The number of workplace deaths in Mayo was equal to Cork and Dublin. It represents an increase of four such deaths in the county when compared to 2016.
The country’s biggest single workplace tragedy occurred off the Blacksod coast in the early hours of March 14, 2017 when the Irish Coast Guard R116 crashed into the Atlantic while acting as top cover during the medical evacuation of a fisherman.
All four crew members on board – Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy, Winchman Ciarán Smith and Winch Operator Paul Ormsby – all died in the accident when the Sikorsky S-92A struck Blackrock Island in Blacksod Bay.
The bodies of Capt Fitzpatrick and Capt Duffy were recovered, but despite an extensive search involving a number of state agencies, the bodies of Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby have never been recovered.
The death of the crew of R116 comes under the public administration and defence sector while the other two workplace fatalities in Mayo were in agriculture, and transportation and storage.
The agriculture-sector death occurred in September when 67-year-old Tony O’Malley from Derrew, Ballyheane, was killed in a farm accident on his farm at approximately 8pm on September 21. It is believed that he died when a quad bike he was driving overturned.
The other workplace death to occur in Mayo involved the death of postman Mattie Merrick of Ballycorroon, Crossmolina, who passed away on Wednesday morning, March 1, following a two-car collision.
The fatal collision occurred at the junction with the R312, the main road from Belmullet to Castlebar, in the townland of Keenagh. Mr Merrick was a long-serving mail contractor with An Post. He was delivering post in the area when the accident occurred.
Nationally, there were 24 deaths in agriculture, making it the eighth year in a row that this sector recorded the highest number of work-related fatalities. The construction sector and the transport sector had the next-highest number of fatalities, with six each.