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HSE REPORTS CONSTRUCTION DEATHS AT RECORD LOW

hselogo1Fatalities decline whilst asbestos related mesothelioma deaths rise

HSE has released the annual figures for work-related fatalities in 2016/2017 and the number of people known to have died from the mesothelioma (the asbestos-related cancer) in 2015.

The provisional annual data for work-related fatal injuries revealed that 137 workers were fatally injured between April 2016 and March 2017 (a rate of 0.43 per 100,000 workers), the second lowest year on record.

HSE report a long-term downward trend in the number of fatal injuries to workers. The number has halved over the last 20 years although in recent years the trend shows signs of leveling.

HSE Chair Martin Temple said:

“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.”

Construction deaths lowest number on record

The new figures show the rate of fatal injuries in several key industrial sectors:

  • Construction – 30 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded. This is the lowest number on record for the sector. 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.

This represents a 31% decrease in the number of construction fatalities which is less slightly less than the drop we anticipated. The pattern of fatality type (fall from height etc.) is likely to be similar to that which we reported earlier this year.

HSE has not published the fatal injury frequency rates for the construction sector (deaths per 100,000 workers) but the direction of travel usually follows the total number of deaths.

  • Agriculture – 27 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded. This sector continues to account for a large share of the annual fatality count. It has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate.
  • Waste and Recycling – 14 fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers were recorded. Despite being a relatively small sector in terms of employment, the annual average fatal injury rate over the last five years is around 15 times as high as the all industry rate.

The fatalities in the waste and recycling sector in 2016/17 include the single incident at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling Ltd in Birmingham on 7 July 2016 which resulted in five deaths.

Further HSE commentary

The new figures highlight the risks to older workers with around a quarter of fatal injuries in 2016/17 involving workers aged 60 or over who make up only 10% of the workforce.

There were 92 members of the public fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2016/17. Almost half of these occurred on railways with the remainder occurring across a number of sectors including public services, entertainment and recreation.

Mesothelioma contracted through past exposure to asbestos killed 2,542 in Great Britain in 2015 compared to 2,519 in 2014. The current figures relating to asbestos-related cancer reflect widespread exposures before 1980. Annual deaths are therefore expected to start to reduce after this current decade.

A fuller assessment of work related ill-health and injuries, drawing on HSE’s full range of data sources, will be provided as part of the annual Health and Safety Statistics release on 1 November 2017.

The HSE Chair added:

“We deal daily with the causes and consequences of work-related deaths, injuries and ill health. Today’s updated figures continue to inform our understanding of which areas we need to target.”

“We concentrate our interventions where we know we can have the biggest impact. We hold dutyholders accountable for managing the risks they create in the workplace. This benefits workers, business performance, the economy and wider society alike.”

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