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Accident rates decline but HSE warns that construction is still dangerous

28 Oct 10 Construction is still one of Britain’s most dangerous industries, despite a significant fall in the number of recorded deaths and injuries, new statistics released by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) show.

The HSE data reveals that in Britain between April 2009 and March 2010 the number of major injuries – such as burns and amputations – fell 14 per cent to 2585 from 3307 in 2008/09 (rate of 266.7 per 100 000 in 2008/09 to 230.0 in 2009/10).

Injuries serious enough to keep people off work for three or more days dropped 8 per cent, from 6815 in 2008/09 to 5651 in 2009/10 (rate of 549.5 per 100 000 in 2008/09 to 502.9 in 2009/10), continuing the downward trend of the last 10 years.

Figures released in June showed that there were 42 fatal injuries to workers in construction in 2009/10, 12 of which were to the self-employed. This compares with 52 deaths the previous year, including 20 to the self-employed, and an average of 66 worker deaths for the five year period from 2004/05. The rate of fatal injury per 100,000 construction workers decreased to 2.2 in 2009/10 from 2.5 in 2008/09.

Work-related ill health remained at a similar level to 2008/09, with an estimated 82,000 cases at a prevalence rate of 3,700 per 100 000 employed in the previous 12 months.

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The data was published as HSE received formal notification of six construction deaths in a week, one of the worst periods in recent times.

Philip White, HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction, said: “While the fact that fewer people are being killed or seriously injured is encouraging, the construction industry retains its unwanted record of accounting for more fatal injuries than any other sector.

“As Britain moves out of recession and work starts up again, we must continue to focus on real health and safety, especially in construction where the risks are all too real all the time. The great tragedy is that so many of these deaths, injuries and illnesses are entirely preventable and can be tracked back to the same basic failings.”

Falls from height remain the biggest cause of fatalities in construction, with the other main causes being struck by a moving/falling object, being struck by a moving vehicle and collapses.

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