Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Reduction in work-related deaths

Construction workers
Unions say deaths in construction remained "unacceptably high"

The number of people killed, injured or made ill by work reduced last year, new figures have shown.

Workplace deaths dropped by 5% to 229 in the year to April, while the number of injuries was 299,000, said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

There were 34 million working days lost through ill-health and injuries in the UK, and 2.1 million people suffered from a work-related health problem.

The HSE says it is still concerned by the number of "slips and trips".

Judith Hackitt, chairman of the HSE, welcomed the reduction in the number of people being injured or made ill by work.

"However, there is a need for a step change," she said.

"Of particular concern are the agriculture, construction and waste and recycling industries.

"I am also concerned that slips and trips - which can have an enormous impact on people's lives - are still not reducing."

She said the HSE is developing a new strategy that seeks to renew commitment from all those involved in health and safety, and she urged employers "not to take their eyes of the ball" in the current economic climate.

'More enforcement'

The figures show more than two million people still suffered from a work-related health problem last year and the TUC expressed concern at the lack of progress in reducing the number of ill-health cases.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Recent figures suggest greater enforcement of the law has reduced injuries at work.

"So we clearly need more enforcement - particularly in areas of occupational health such as tackling repetitive strain injuries, back pain and stress, as these make up three quarters of work-related ill-health and are workers' main safety concerns."

He added greater enforcement could only happen if the government increased resources to local authorities and the HSE for inspection and enforcement.

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of construction workers union Ucatt, said deaths in construction remained "unacceptably high".

"It has to be remembered that the figures for injuries are misleading. Research by the University of Liverpool found only 30% of employees report injuries and just 13% of self-employed workers report injuries.

"That is a particular concern in a casualised industry such as construction."

Work-related deaths on the rise
19 Sep 05 |  Business
Concern over work-related deaths
29 Oct 08 |  Scotland

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