Figures detailing the latest fatal injury statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that deaths in the United Kingdom's construction industry have hit their highest rate since 2002, which bucks a downward 15-year trend that has seen an average 3.9 percent drop in the number of deaths per year.
In 2006-2007, there were 77 construction-related fatalities, which is equivalent to a rate of 3.7 per 100,000 workers. The finalized fatality figure for the 2005-2006 period was 60, indicating a 28-percent increase in fatalities since last year. Of the 77 deaths, 50 were employees and 27 were self-employed.
The figure represents the highest number of fatalities since 2001-2002, when 80 workers lost their lives at a rate of 3.8 percent per 100,000. Based on an average of the past 5 years, construction fatalities have accounted for around 30 percent of all worker deaths, making it the highest total of fatal injuries among all sectors.
The increase in worker fatalities has not been limited to the construction industry. Overall, the number of workers killed in 2006-2007 has increased. This year, 241 workers from the agricultural, manufacturing, construction and service industries were killed, which is an 11 percent increase from last year's figure of 217 workers - the lowest annual figures on record, according to HSE.
Loss of 241 Lives “Unacceptable”
According to the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) Chair Sir Bill Callaghan, the loss of 241 lives is “unacceptable” and issued a fresh challenge to industry to place safety at the top of its priorities and do more to protect the work force.
“It is disappointing to see that the overall number of deaths has risen,” said Callaghan. "We have worked hard with industry and trade unions over the past few years to bring the number down.”
Falling from a height continues to be the most common type of accident, accounting for 19 percent of fatal injuries to workers in 2006-2007. Being struck by a moving or falling object and being struck by a moving vehicle are the next most-common kinds of fatal accidents.
To address the significant increase in construction-related fatalities, HSE said it will continue focusing on its inspection program as well as working very closely with stakeholders to address the problem to rising fatalities.
“Today’s statistics are disappointing and distressing but improvements can still be made, Callaghan reiterated. “The ball now lies firmly in the industry’s court.”