The figures, which are unvalidated and could change, have been released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and show that 69 construction workers were killed in 2007-08.
The figures, if confirmed, will be a welcome move in the right direction. Figures for 2006-07 showed a 25% increase in fatal accidents in the sector, reversing two years of declining statistics.
HSE chief inspector of construction Stephen Williams called the figures “encouraging”, but warned there was no room for complacency.
“It is totally unacceptable that, once again, a significant number of lives have been lost and continue to be put at risk on construction sites. The HSE will continue to take firm action against those who ignore safety precautions,” he stressed.
In its most recent spot check of construction sites, the HSE stopped work at a third of the 1,000 refurbishment sites visited and served enforcement notices on 395.
“In 13 cases, inspectors believed the situation on site to be so poor that prosecution is being considered,” added Williams.
Last year, more than half of the employees who died on construction sites worked in refurbishment, and the number of fatalities on refurbishment sites rose by 61%, the HSE said.
The Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive formally merged in April to create a single national regulatory body for health and safety at work. The merged body is called the Health and Safety Executive.