Provisional figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal that the number of people killed at work in Britain fell to a record low in the year 2009/2010.
Between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2010, 151 workers were killed, compared with 178 deaths in the previous year and 233 in 2007/2008. The average number of deaths per year over the last five years is 220.
Whilst the downward trend is encouraging, Judith Hackitt, Chair of the HSE, acknowledges that lower levels of activity on account of the recession and a reduction in the number of new, inexperienced recruits in the workplace has contributed to the fall in fatalities.
Also, not all sectors of the economy saw a reduction in the number of workplace deaths. The agriculture industry recorded a sizeable increase, with 38 workers killed on farms in 2009/2010 after a record low of 25 deaths in 2008/2009. This is a rate of 8.2 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers, making it the most dangerous industry in which to work. Of the 38 agriculture workers killed, 17 were employees and 21 were self-employed. In addition, seven members of the public were killed in farm-related accidents.
National Farmers’ Union President Peter Kendall said, “In the coming months we will establish an industry coalition with our partners and through a concerted effort will look to spread the health and safety message…and continue to support the HSE efforts to minimise farm deaths especially through the Come Home Safe Campaign.”
Significant reductions in the number of workplace fatalities were recorded in some of the other historically most dangerous industries in Britain, however:
- In the construction industry there were 41 fatal injuries, compared with the 52 deaths recorded in 2008/2009 and an average of 66 deaths per year in the past five years;
- In the services sector 42 people were killed at work, compared with 62 in 2008/2009 and an average of 72 per year in the past five years; and
- 24 fatal injuries to manufacturing workers were recorded, which compares with an average of 38 deaths per year in the past five years and shows a fall from 33 deaths in 2008/2009.