Agriculture, the most dangerous industry in Britain, recorded 38 worker deaths during 2009-2010.

New Low for Worker Deaths in Britain Last Year

The lowest number of fatalities on record for a full year, 151, was recorded in the year from April 1, 2009, to March 31, 2010, the Health and Safety Executive reported June 30.

Deaths of workers dipped to the lowest level on record for a full year, 151, according to preliminary numbers released June 30 by the Health and Safety Executive. The year was April 1, 2009, to March 31, 2010, and the total was 31 percent below the five-year average of 220 deaths per year, HSE reported.

"It's really very encouraging to see a further reduction in workplace fatalities in the past year," said HSE Chair Judith Hackitt. "This is performance which owes much to good practice, leadership, and employee engagement. No doubt the recession has resulted in lower levels of activity in some sectors, and a decrease in the numbers of new inexperienced recruits has also contributed to this fall in fatalities. We should also remember that 151 families are mourning the loss of someone who last year went out to work and never came home. Being one of the best health and safety performers in the world means continuing to strive to drive these numbers down further -- not getting complacent about what we've collectively achieved -- and recognizing the new challenges as we emerge from the recession."

Agriculture is the most dangerous industry in Britain, and this sector did not perform well during the year. HSE said 38 workers died on farms during the year, "marking a disappointing return to levels of earlier years after a record low of 25 deaths in 2008/09."

"We are especially concerned to see the continuing high levels of fatalities in agriculture," Hackitt said. "The fact that many of these lives have been lost in family businesses is a double tragedy. Not only have families been ripped apart, but businesses that have been handed down through generations have been ruined. No industry can or should regard high levels of workplace death and injury as being 'part of the job.' It doesn't have to be this way, as many other sectors have shown by their improvement."

For example, the total of 41 construction fatalities during the year (a rate of 2.0 deaths per 100,000 workers) was well below the five-year average of 66 deaths annually.

Worker fatality totals in Britain for the past five years were:

  • 2008/09: 178
  • 2007/08: 233
  • 2006/07: 247
  • 2005/06: 217
  • 2004/05: 223

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