Fall in deaths at work but serious injuries piling up

The number of workplace deaths in the UK has dropped.

New figures published by the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) show that
226 people were killed in work-related accidents in 2002-2003. This is 25 fewer
than the previous year.

But the figures also show the number of major injuries increased slightly,
with a total of 28,426, up 415.

In all, 126,004 injuries caused people to have three or more days’ absence
from work – 3,651 fewer than in 2001-2002, a drop of 2.4 per cent.

HSC chairman Bill Callaghan said he was not surprised at the findings.

"[The figures] confirm the size of the occupational health problems we
face and that progress on reducing injuries has broadly reached a
plateau," he said. "I am disappointed that we have still not seen a
step-change in health and safety performance."

The statistics show that the rate of reported major injury to employees
increased in the agriculture, construction, manufacturing and services sectors,
and fell in the utility supply sector.

The most common cause of major injury to employees continues to be slipping
and tripping, accounting for 37 per cent of all major injuries.

Being struck by a moving or falling object accounted for 14 per cent of
major injuries to employees, falling from a height also accounted for 14 per
cent and being injured while handling, lifting or carrying objects accounted
for 12 per cent.

"Successive falls in construction-related fatalities over the last two
years are certainly welcome news," said Callaghan. "But we must be
consistently seeing fewer deaths, fewer injuries and fewer assaults on people’s
health.

"The enforcing authorities – the HSE and its local authority partners –
cannot do it all. To deliver lasting improvements in health and safety, we must
have real commitment from industry, and from many other stakeholders as
well."

By Quentin Reade

www.hse.gov.uk/statistics

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