Workplace deaths fall to record low in UK

The number of people killed in UK workplaces fell to a record low between April 2008 and March this year, according to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Provisional figures collated by the Office for National Statistics have suggested there were 180 workplace fatalities in 2008-09, 22% lower than the average 231 deaths a year for the past five years (and 233 in 2008-09), and representing 0.6 deaths per 100,000 workers.

The greatest number of fatalities was in construction, where there were 53 deaths last year, although agriculture had the greatest number of deaths per 100,000 workers, with 29 fatalities – a rate of 5.7 deaths per 100,000.

Judith Hackitt, HSE chair, said the reduction was welcome, although she pointed out that the economy being in recession, and so less active, could also be a factor.

From an occupational health perspective, it was also important to look beyond the issue of fatalities.

“Statistics on fatal injuries do not give us the whole picture.

Work-related ill health is a significant problem and accounts for four times more working days lost than workplace injury, so there is still a major challenge we all face to prevent death, injury and ill health in all of our workplaces,” she explained.

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