Workplace deaths increase for second time in four years

The number of people killed at work has increased for the second time in the past four years, rising by 4 per cent during the last 12 months.

Official figures show 235 people were killed at work, eight more than the previous year, with the rate of fatal injuries also rising throughout 2003-2004.

However, 9 per cent of the total figure can be attributed to the Morecambe Bay tragedy in February, when 21 Chinese workers were killed while harvesting cockles.

Despite a general downturn in workplace fatalities throughout the 1990s the figures, measured by the Health & safety Executive (HSE), have increased twice since then – in 2000-2001 and this year.

The HSE points out that the most recent data comparable with other countries shows the UK has the second lowest number of deaths among the EU member states.

The increase has, nevertheless, led to calls from trade unions for the introduction of more stringent corporate killing laws and tougher enforcement of safety standards.

Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, said the figures undermined government safety targets and highlighted the need for stricter laws and further resources.

“If the Government is serious about reducing deaths and injuries it must increase the resources available,” he said.

Falling from height is still the most common cause of death, and has increased since last year, accounting for 29 per cent of fatalities. Being struck by a moving vehicle or falling object was the second biggest cause of fatal accidents.

The service industry has the worst record, with 80 fatalities, followed by construction with 70 and agriculture with 44.

Bill Callaghan, chair of the Health & Safety Commission, called for more action from employers.

“I am disappointed that there has been no reduction in the number of fatalities. Simple measures that prevent accidents are not being put in place,” he said.

Comments are closed.