Workplace death rate rising

Statistics on workplace deaths make grim reading with levels at their
highest for a decade

Workplace deaths are at their worst level for a decade, up 34 per cent from
last year, according to the Health and Safety Commission.

The provisional figures, published by the Health and Safety Executive in
June, show 295 workplace fatalities in 2000/01 compared with 220 the previous

Of these, just over a third occurred in the construction industry with a
further 17 per cent in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

The rate of reported major injuries to employees fell by 5.4 per cent over
the same period, however, while the rate of reported over three day injuries
was down by 2.4 per cent.

There were an estimated 7,800 new cases of work-related musculoskeletal
disorders and an estimated 6,600 new cases of work-related stress and mental
health problems seen by specialist physicians, said the Health and Safety

HSC chairman Bill Callaghan said, "We are greatly concerned by the
increase in fatalities in 2000/01 – which goes against the downward trend of
recent years – and are taking firm action to encourage sustainable improvement.

"All employers must look after their employees’ health and safety, as
well as that of members of the public affected by their workplace activities.

"The HSC will do all it can to help them, and encourage action through
the HSE and local authorities."

The commission has published its strategic plan for the next three years,
setting out its key priorities for reducing work-related injuries and
ill-health. These are:

– To reduce the number of working days lost per 100,000 workers from
work-related injury and ill-health by 30 per cent by 2010.

– To reduce the incidence rate of fatal and major injury incidents by 10 per
cent by 2010.

– To reduce the incidence rate of cases of work-related ill-health by 20 per
cent by 2010

– To achieve half of each improvement target by 2004.

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