Work-related illness on the decline

The number of people who suffered from work-related ill health has fallen by 200,000 compared with figures from 2001-02, according to official statistics.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) national statistics showed that two million people suffered from work-related injuries and ill health in 2004/05.

Stress and musculoskeletal disorders were found to account for about two-thirds of occupational ill health.

Fatal injuries were also down by 7%, or 220 deaths in 2004-05 compared with 236 the previous year.

Two industries – construction and agriculture, forestry and fishing – accounted for half of these deaths, with 71 and 42 respectively. The number of reported major injuries was also down 2.2% to 30,213, compared with the previous year.

More than one-third of all reported major injuries were caused by slipping or tripping, said the HSE.

The number of reported injuries that resulted in more than three days absence fell by 8% in 2004-05 to 120,346, of which 40% were caused by handling, lifting and carrying.

This year’s figures also marked the mid-point of the Health and Safety Commission’s Revitalising Health and Safety targets, which were to reduce fatal and major injuries by 5%, occupational ill health by 10%, and working days lost by 15%.

Overall, the target on fatal and major injuries had not been met, although progress had been made as there had been the first fall in major injuries since 2000-01, said the HSE. For work-related ill health, the incidence has fallen for most major categories with the 10% target ‘probably’ achieved overall.

For working days lost, there had been a ‘significant’ fall that may have been large enough to meet the 15% target, said the HSE.

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