Nearly a quarter of all road traffic fatalities in Ireland are work-related, according to a new report published by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).
Of these deaths, 85% are of bystanders while the remaining 15% are of workers themselves.
This is the first time the scale of work-related road traffic collisions and the associated deaths have been identified.
The researchers identified three key groups at risk: those who are driving for work; those who work on the side of the road; and bystanders whose deaths are associated with a work-related driving activity.
“With increasing volumes of traffic, including work related traffic, these findings should be of real concern to road safety, public health, occupational health and regulatory authorities,” said Professor Anne Drummond from University College Dublin (UCD) who led the team.
“The most striking depositions are those in which drivers of large vehicles were largely unaware of the collision with a pedestrian or a cyclist, until they were halted by a witness further on in their journey."
Kate Field, Head of Information and Intelligence at IOSH, said: “Work-related road traffic fatalities are a matter of serious public health concern and have an impact on the individual, family, and society as a whole.
“This research will hopefully lead to an improvement in the reporting of fatal work-related road traffic accident statistics, helping to highlight the importance of reliable sources of notification through coroner’s, police or regulatory authorities records to avoid under-reporting and misreporting practices.”
Breaking down the figures
The results of this study provide a benchmark for both future recording of data on work-related road traffic fatalities and national and employer level strategies for prevention and intervention strategies.
To conduct the study, researchers from University College Dublin analysed the coroner records on all road traffic fatalities in Ireland between 2008-2011.
A total of 833 of the 915 deaths from road traffic accidents recorded during the period were available to the study (93%). 193 of these deaths (23%) were identified by the researchers as work-related, meaning that a worker, work activity or work process was involved in the collision. A truck driver was involved in 99 of the 193 accidents.
Of the 193 work-related fatalities, 29 were of people who were engaged in work activity at the time of the collision; 45 were of bystanders where work activity was a primary contributor to the collision; and 119 were of bystanders where work activity was not a direct contributor to the crash.