The number of workers who have been killed in accidents on construction sites has more than doubled in the last year, according to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

Figures in a report from the authority show that 12 people died on sites in 2019, up from five the previous year. This is the highest level since 2015.

The provisional data details how many people were killed in workplace incidents in 2019 and shows that in total, 46 deaths were recorded - up from 39 in 2018.

Agriculture remains the most dangerous sector in which to work with 18 deaths, with older farmers most at risk. 13 victims were over 60 years of age, and seven of the deaths involved being trapped or crushed.

Most of the construction fatalities occurred in smaller companies, with falls from a height the leading cause.

Dr Sharon McGuinness, HSA Chief Executive Officer, said she was concerned about the rise in the fatalities, and said an awareness campaign targeting construction workers and companies is planned for this year.

"Construction workers engage in many activities that may expose them to hazards, such as falling from a height, unguarded machinery or being struck by construction equipment," she said.

"Our provisional data also shows that 940 non-fatal incidents and dangerous occurrences were reported to the HSA from the construction sector in 2019.

"While the message seems to have got through to big construction firms who have improved standards around worker safety, what we are seeing is self-employed and smaller building companies not realising their duty and responsibility to staff, and cutting corners when it comes to health and safety.

"We plan to target working at heights throughout our construction safety campaigns this year, and will also engage directly with the sector to increase knowledge and application of risk assessment tools to be used on all sites."