HSE Steps Up Warnings After Rise in Fatalities

The British agency issued new regional alerts after reporting that 171 people died in workplace incidents during 2010/2011, up from 147 during the previous year.

Britain's Health and Safety Executive issued a fresh set of warnings to employers in high-risk industries, including construction, after reporting an increase in workplace deaths nationwide in 2010/11. It urged them to make workers' safety their highest priority for 2012 and reminded them of their legal responsibility to ensure lives are not put at risk.

Total occupational fatalities were 171 people in Great Britain last year, compared with 147 deaths during 2009/10. More than 24,700 workers suffered a major injury in 2010/11, according to HSE. The latest numbers are provisional data. They indicate an average of six in every million workers were killed while at work between April 2010 and March 2011. Final numbers will be released in June 2012.

Industries considered high risk include construction (with 50 deaths last year), agriculture (34 deaths), and waste handling and recycling (9 deaths). Combined, these three accounted for more than half of all workplace deaths in Great Britain during 2010/11.

"These statistics highlight why we need good health and safety in British workplaces," said Nigel Long, principal inspector for HSE's South West region. "Employers need to spend their time tackling the real dangers that workers face and stop worrying about trivial risks or doing pointless paperwork. It's important to remember that we still have one of the lowest rates of workplace deaths in Europe, but one death is still one too many. I would urge businesses to focus on helping to cut the number of deaths in 2012."

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