Annual figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal that the number of workplace fatalities looks set to be the second lowest on record – with the largest reduction in incidents seen in the construction sector.
Provisional figures released by the HSE for work-related fatalities (which includes death from asbestos and other industrial diseases) show that 137 workers died between April 2016 and March 2017 (a rate of 0.43 per 100,000 workers) which is the second lowest since records began.
According to the HSE, there were 30 construction fatalities in the last recorded period. Whilst this accounts for the largest share, significantly this is the lowest number on record for the construction sector.
However, over the last five years the number has fluctuated. The annual average for the past five years is 39. The annual average rate over the last five years in construction is around four times as high as the all-industry rate.
The figures are the latest in a long-term decline in workplace deaths, which have halved in the past twenty years, although more recently the trend showed the numbers appeared to be levelling.
HSE’s Chair, Martin Temple, commented: “Every fatality is a tragic event that should not happen. While we are encouraged by this improvement on the previous year, we continue unwaveringly on our mission to prevent injury, death and ill health by protecting people and reducing risks.
“We deal daily with the causes and consequences of work-related deaths, injuries and ill health. These updated figures continue to inform our understanding of which areas we need to target.”
Lara Murray, an Associate Solicitor and health and safety legal expert with Palmers said: “These figures are certainly encouraging but does not mean that the construction industry can rest on its laurels.
“As the HSE Chair says, any death is one death too many and a significant number of fatalities and serious injuries involving construction workers could be avoided if companies carried risk assessments and ensured they were acted upon.”
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