Workplace Fatalities Rise in UK; Agriculture, Construction Top the List

After a record low in the number of people killed at work, provisional figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show a rise of 24 fatalities, from 147 in 2009-2010 to 171 in 2010-2011.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has reported that worker fatalities in the United Kingdom increased last year.

After a record low in the number of people killed at work, provisional figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show a rise of 24 fatalities, from 147 in 2009-2010 to 171 in 2010-2011.

Of particular concern are the agricultural and construction industries—these two sectors alone account for nearly half the total fatalities (84) in the past year. The waste industry has also seen an increase in fatalities, from four in 2009-2010 to 10 in 2010-2011.

Although the trend over the past few years indicates worker fatalities are generally decreasing, the most recent figures illustrate that occupational safety cannot be seen as a “job done,” according to RoSPA.

The figure of 171 worker deaths in 2010-2011 is 17 percent lower than the average for the past five years (205). The rate of fatal injuries has also decreased, with the latest figure of 0.6 per 100,000 workers being 14 percent lower than the five-year average rate of 0.7.

Roger Bibbings, RoSPA’s occupational safety adviser, said, “This rise in the number of fatalities is disappointing and highlights the fact that if improvements in performance are to be sustained, continuing efforts in health and safety are required.

“Nearly half the fatalities are occurring in two sectors—agriculture and construction—so both the regulator and all other stakeholders in these sectors will need to redouble their efforts. Although they will be prioritizing enforcement, major cuts in the HSE’s budget are extremely worrying. Tragic as they are, notifiable fatal injuries are only the tip of a much larger iceberg: at least twice as many workers are killed on the roads while driving as part of their job, and thousands of workers are continuing to die annually from past exposure to hazardous agents such as asbestos.”

The provisional fatality figures are available on HSE’s website at: www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/fatals.htm.

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