HSE looks to industry

Provisional figures from the HSE report that 241 workers were fatally injured in 2006/07, corresponding to a rate of 0.80 fatal injuries per 100 000 workers. The final figures for 2005/06 were 217 and 0.72 respectively, the lowest on record.

Although a long-term downward trend is still clear, the rate of decrease has slowed over the last 15 years and there has been very little change in the overall rate over the last five years.

In construction there were 77 fatalities, equivalent to 3.7 deaths per 100 000 workers. Over the last 15 years there has been a statistically significant downward trend in the rate of fatal injury to workers; on average a 3.9% year on year decrease. However, the higher number and rate for 2006/07 changes a pattern consistent with continued reduction up to 2005/06 into one of no change since 2002/03.

Sir Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health & safety Commission, said, "It is disappointing to see that the overall number of deaths has risen. We have worked hard with industry and trade unions over the past few years to bring the number down. Behind every one of these numbers was a man or a woman, with a life, friends and family... I have to remind you that safety is ultimately the responsibility of those who manage and direct companies and those who work for them. Today's statistics are disappointing and distressing but improvements can still be made. They must be made. HSC/E is taking action. The ball now lies firmly in the industry's court."

HSE Chief Executive Geoffrey Podger added, "Those who are putting the lives of their workforce at risk should know that HSE takes this very seriously. In the past year we have approved 25% more prosecutions than the year before and our inspectors have served 1000 more enforcement notices. No one should believe that they can get away with serious breaches of health and safety."