Figures from the Health and Safety Authority show a 13% decrease in the number of workplace deaths in 2012.

According to the latest figures, 47 people were killed in workplace accidents last year compared to 54 in 2011.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Health and Safety Authority CEO Martin O'Halloran said that while it is a positive development, deaths in the agriculture sector remain too high.

"It’s the best we've had since 2009, and prior to that it’s a long time since we've had this kind of significant reduction," he said.

"However there has been a stubborn resilience in the agriculture sector. It’s still at 21, 2011 was 22, and 2010 was 22, so despite a very significant programme working with all the stakeholders, we're not yet seeing the positive results from those programmes."

The biggest reduction in fatalities occurred in the transportation and storage sector, with one reported in 2012 compared to seven in 2011.

The construction sector saw an increase in fatalities from six in 2011 to eight in 2012 and there was also an increase in the fishing sector with five deaths in 2011 and seven in 2012.

Mr O'Halloran said he is concerned about construction safety standards: "The increase in fatalities and feedback from our inspectors indicates there has been, in some areas, a slippage in standards.

"We carried out 3,000 inspections in the sector in 2012, and we will continue a high level of engagement during 2013."