Workplace fatalities increased last year

The number of employees killed in the workplace rose by 4 per cent in 2003/2004, according to latest statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

A total of 235 people were fatally injured, compared with 227 in 2002/03, with the rate of fatal injuries rising by 3 per cent to 0.81 per 100,000 staff.

The figures have been described as “disappointing” by Health and Safety Commission (HSC) chairman, Bill Callaghan, following a general decline in the trend in the 1990s.

The rise was partly caused by the cockle-pickers disaster in Morecambe Bay, in February, when 21 people drowned. But nearly half the fatalities (49 per cent) occurred in two industries: construction and agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Falling from heights continued to be the most common kind of accident, accounting for 29 per cent of fatal injuries.

Being struck by a moving vehicle or a falling object was the next most common accident.

The HSE’s falls from height programme would continue to run pilot projects and sector-based approaches, said Callaghan. Proposed work at height regulations were also due to come in by the end of the year, he added.

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