There was a significant fall in the number of enforcement notices issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2004-05.
The number of enforcement notices (8,445) issued was 25% lower than the average annual figure for the six years up to 2004.
The HSE said the drop was partly due to employers being much more proactive in tackling health and safety issues before an enforcement notice was given.
The executive also said that the work of its inspectors was becoming more complex and time-consuming as the number of stress-related health claims has increased.
However, the average penalty for HSE cases was 18,765 in 2004-05, a 31% increase on the 14,303 average in 2003-04.
Recent research by the TUC also indicated that more than two-thirds of employers review their health and safety practices to comply when they have been issued with HSE enforcement notices elsewhere in their organisation.