Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Concern over work-related deaths

Construction site
Construction is among the more dangerous jobs for workers

A total of 32 employees were killed and 12,000 others injured as a result of accidents at work, figures show.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) research also found that 113,000 suffered from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by work.

A further 3.3 million days were lost due to work-related ill health and injury during the 2007/08 period.

The HSE said the results of their recent research were a "cause for concern".

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) warned that there had been significant cuts in safety inspectors over the last four years.

HSE chairwoman Judith Hackitt said the number of injuries to people working in the agriculture, construction and waste and recycling industries were particularly worrying.

She said: "I am also concerned that slips and trips - which can have an enormous impact on peoples' lives - are still not reducing. HSE is developing a new strategy that seeks to renew commitment from all those involved in health and safety to tackle these challenges and more.

"In the difficult and uncertain months ahead I urge employers not to take their eyes off the ball.

"Good business management will be vital and good health and safety management is an integral part of that.

"Health and safety contributes positively to competitiveness and should not be sacrificed in times of financial pressure."

Industry mix

Paul Stollard, Director of HSE Scotland, added: "The number of fatal injuries to workers in Scotland continues to cause concern at 32.

"This is little changed on last year but represents a larger proportion of self-employed people who have died as result of their work. Agricultural and construction work are once again the most dangerous.

"The rate of fatal and major injury remains more or less the same. It is strongly influenced by the composition of employment, for example, the mix of industries and occupations in Scotland compared to other parts of Great Britain.

"Falls and being hit by moving objects are some of the main causes. But the rate for all injuries has come down 4% on last year. This is a bit more encouraging."

Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, said the number of HSE inspectors had fallen from 182 to 158 since 2004.

He said: "If the government genuinely believes that health and safety is at the cornerstone of our civilised society then we challenge them to forget the deregulatory pleadings of business organisations and resource the HSE to ensure that workplaces are adequately inspected and not wait until death and injury occur before taking action."

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