The fatal injury rate in construction has reached an all-time low, according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures.
In the year to 31 March 2005, there were 72 construction fatalities – a slight increase on the previous year. However, employment has increased in construction, and the fatal injury rate actually fell to 3.48 deaths per 100,000 workers – the lowest rate on record.
Bill Callaghan, chair of the Health and Safety Commission, said: “Clearly the results of this year’s report show falls from height remain a big problem, amounting to one-in-four of all fatalities for workers in 2004/05. This is a particular concern in the construction and services sectors.
“Although we are making progress, I remain concerned that so many people continue to lose their lives at work.”
Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ union, said the figures meant the number of people killed at work since Labour took office in 1997 is approaching 2,000.
“No death at work is acceptable, but these figures underline that workers need politicians to act now to ensure that where negligence does occur, those who are responsible face the consequences,” he said.
He called for the reform of corporate manslaughter legislation to protect workers and “not shield the negligent”.
“Until directors have personal responsibility for health and safety then I fear the death toll will continue,” he said.
A corporate manslaughter Bill will be put before Parliament soon, but the government has stated it will not hold individuals personnally liable for the deaths of employees.