Decline in worker death rate

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Official statistics have shown a reduction in the number of workers killed in Britain last year.

Provisional data published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in July revealed that 148 workers were fatally injured between April 2012 and March 2013, compared with 172 in the previous year.

The overall rate of fatal injury dropped to 0.5 per 100,000 workers, below the five-year average of 0.6.

By sector, there were 39 fatal injuries for construction work, at a rate of 1.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared with an average of 53 deaths per year over the past five years and a decrease from the 48 deaths recorded in 2011/12.

There were 29 fatal injuries in agricultural work, a rate of 8.8 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared with an average of 36 deaths per year over the past five years and a decrease from 35 in 2011/12. In the waste and recycling sector, there were 10 fatal injuries, at a rate of 8.2 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared with an average of six deaths per year over the past five years and an increase from five in 2011/12.

Broken down by country, 118 fatal injuries in England were recorded, a rate of 0.5 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared with an average of 144 deaths per year over the past five years and a decrease from 131 deaths in 2011/12.

In Scotland, there were 22 fatal injuries, at a rate of 0.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared with an average of 22 deaths per year over the past five years and an increase from the 19 deaths recorded in 2011/12.

In Wales, there were eight fatal injuries, at a rate of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared with an average of 12 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 19 deaths recorded in 2011/12.

HSE chair Judith Hackitt said: “Although the number of people killed at work has dropped significantly, last year 148 people failed to return home to their loved ones.

“We all have a part to play to ensure people come home safe at the end of the working day and good leadership, employee engagement and effective risk-management are key to achieving this.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady welcomed the fall in the numbers, but stressed this did not mean employers could become complacent: “Many occupational diseases are still on the increase and much more needs to be done to protect workers. Every year, more than 20,000 people die as a result of ill-health brought on by their working conditions.

“More worryingly, cuts to inspection budgets mean that fewer workplaces will receive a visit from the safety inspector this year. This risks creating an environment where some employers will pay less attention to workplace safety.”

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