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Provisional HSE figures on work-related fatal injuries in Great Britain have revealed a slight decrease in fatalities. According to the statistics, 228 workers lost thier lives in Great Britain in 2007/08, compared with 247 workers in 2006/07.
However, while there was a slight reduction in the number of construction workers killed — from 77 workers in 2006/07, to 72 in 2007/08 — the number of agricultural workers increased, from 36 in 2006/07 to 39 in 2007/08.
Responding to the figures, HSE chair Judith Hackitt said: “Whilst we welcome the headline decrease in overall numbers of fatalities, there is absolutely no room for complacency, as the report suggests a plateau in the overall five-year trend.
“Great Britain’s position among major European Union countries is — in relative terms — a creditable one, but none can find it acceptable that 228 people died directly as a cause of their work. After many years of improvement, it is disappointing that we are on a performance plateau. This stresses the need for everyone, employers and employees alike to make a further effort to reduce this total of human misery.
“Evidence shows that where employers and employees work closely together to agree the agenda and set targets to tackle real issues, they have made significant improvements. We want this to continue and we also want to see employers taking more ownership and leadership to embed health and safety in their organisational culture and boardrooms.
“The high levels of fatalities in the agriculture and construction sectors continue to be of particular concern to us and will be a major focus of HSE’s work priorities over the coming year”
Mick Antoniw of Thompsons Solicitors said that what the figures did not show was more revealing: “If you were to include deaths from road-traffic accidents related to work, and the increasing number of deaths from industrial diseases, such as mesothelioma, the HSE results would reveal a far darker picture.”
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