Workplace fatalities fall to lowest level ever recorded

The downward trend in workplace deaths continues for another year running

The number of workplace deaths fell by 10 per cent last year – the lowest
rate ever recorded – according to the Health and Safety Executive.

Its statistics show that 226 people were killed at work during 2002/03 – 25
less than the previous year. This is also the second year running in which the
workplace fatality rate has fallen.

Although there has been a downward trend in workplace fatalities for the
past 20 years, Bill Callaghan, chair of the Health and Safety Commission,
warned there was no room for complacency.

"Worker fatalities are a blemish on a civilised society," he said.
"They mark a failure of a basic human right – to have our health and
safety protected."

He added that the figures also fail to show the numbers killed through
unhealthy working conditions – some 6,000 people a year die from work-related
cancers, for instance.

Falls from a height and being struck by moving vehicles or objects were the
three most common types of accident, accounting for 53 per cent of fatal
injuries.

Along with the actual number of deaths, the rate of fatal injury also fell
by 10 per cent to 0.79 per 100,000 workers, compared with 0.88 in 2001/02. The
rate is now at the same level as three years ago, and around a third of the
rate recorded in 1981.

Almost half the fatalities (47 per cent) occurred in just two industries:
construction and agriculture.

Thirty-six workers died in agriculture, compared with 39 the year before,
although the rate of fatal injury rose to 9.5 per 100,000 workers, compared
with 9.2 in 2001/02, reflecting a reduction in the number of staff.

In construction, fatal injuries fell from 105 in 2000/01 to 71 in 2002/03.
The fatal injury rate also fell to 4, from 4.4 in 2001/02.

Forty-one workers died in manufacturing, down from 48 in 2001/02. The fatal
injury rate was 1.1, compared with 1.2 in 2001/02.

In the service industries there were 75 fatal injuries this year, compared
with 70 in 2001/02. The fatal injury rate rose from 0.31 to 0.33.

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