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    HSE PUBLISH FIGURES ON 2011/12 CONSTRUCTION DEATHS

    Latest data suggest reduction in work related deaths now ‘levelling-off’

    The provisional figures for 2011/12 workplace fatal injuries have been published by HSE (5 July). The headline HSE comments are:

    • Number and Rate: number of workers fatally injured in 2011/12 is 173 corresponding to a rate of fatal injury of 0.6 deaths per 100 000 workers;
    • Trend: for the latest four years appears to show a levelling-off in the previous downward trend;
    • Averages: 173 worker deaths in 2011/12 is 12% lower than the average for the past five years (196) and the 0.6 rate of fatal injury compares to the five-year average rate of 0.7;
    • Members of public: 90 members of the public were fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2011/12 (excluding railways-related incidents)

    The finalised figure for 2010/11 is 175 worker fatalities, and corresponds to a rate of 0.6 deaths per 100 000 workers. The report covers the twelve months commencing 1 April 2011 and ending 31 March 2012. Judith Hackitt, the HSE Chair, said:

    “Britain continues to have one of the lowest levels of workplace fatal injuries in Europe, part of a long term downward trend. We must not forget that these are lives cut short, not statistics – every single one of these deaths will have caused terrible grief and anguish for family and friends as well as workmates and colleagues. 

    We want employers to focus on the real risks that continue to cause death and serious injury. HSE is working very hard to make it easier for people to understand what they need to do and to focus on the real priorities. Protecting people from death and serious injury at work should be at the heart of what we all do.”

    TUC call for change of direction

    Responding to the figures the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called for a “change of direction from the government”. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

    “Although any drop in the number of workplace fatalities is to be welcomed these figures are still well above the historic low of two years ago. What is most worrying is that during previous economic downturns there has been a decrease in the rate of fatalities. The fact that this is not happening now suggests that deaths could rise sharply as Britain comes of out recession, unless urgent action is taken to improve workplace safety.

    We see the government continuing to attack what they claim is an un-necessary health and safety culture, a view that is unlikely to be shared by the families of the 173 people who died last year as a result of their jobs. The responsibility for these deaths may lie with those employers who break safety laws but ministers also have a duty to ensure that the rules are enforced and that the protection of workers is seen not as a ‘burden’ on employers but as a duty.’

    Construction number and rate of deaths show small reductions

    The report provides figures by main industry sectors:

    • Construction: 49 fatal injuries to workers, 17% lower than the average figure of 59. The latest rate of fatal injury is 2.3 per 100 000 workers, compared to a five-year average of 2.5;
    • Agriculture: 33 fatal injuries to workers compared to average of 35 for the previous five years. The rate of fatal injury in 2011/12 is 9.7, compared to the five-year average rate of 11.1.
    • Mining and quarrying: ten workers died compared to average of five deaths for each of the previous five years.
    • Manufacturing: 31 fatal injuries to workers, slightly higher than the five-year average (29). The latest rate of fatal injury is 1.1, compared to an average rate of 0.9 over the previous five years.
    • Waste Recycling: 5 fatal injuries to workers, slightly lower than the average count of six. The latest rate of 4.1 deaths per 100 000 compares to an average rate of 4.8.
    • Services: 44 fatal injuries to workers, 25% lower than the average for the past five years (59). The latest rate of 0.2 deaths compares to an average rate of 0.3.

    There were 417 work related deaths involving members of the public. The majority (78%) relate to incidents occurring on railways including acts of suicide or trespass.

    UCATT concern over ‘self-employed’

    The construction union UCATT has described the figures as “not good news in anyway”.  Steve Murphy, General Secretary of UCATT, said:

    “No one should consider the latest construction fatality figures to be good news in anyway. Deaths remain far too high, especially given the declining number of people working in the industry. Each and every death results in a family being left devastated when a loved one is killed.

     The latest figures reveal that self-employed construction workers are at greater risk of suffering a fatal injury than employees. The rate of fatal injuries for directly employed construction workers in 2011/12 was 2 per 100,000 compared to a rate of 2.8 per 100,000 for self-employed construction workers.

     The timing of the publication of the latest fatality rates is significant as it comes just a day (July 4) after the HSE’s consultation on scrapping existing safety regulations including the Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989 and the Tower Crane Register closed.”

    HSE commentary on longer-term trends

    The trend in the rate of fatal injury over the last 20 years suggests that:

    • Over the 20-year time period there has been a downward trend in the rate of fatal injury;
    • The rate in 2009/10 represents the lowest on record; and
    • Adding the latest 2011/12 data, the rate since 2008/09 indicates a levelling-off.

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