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Deaths fall but site safety still priority

The latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive indicate a slight fall in the number of work related fatalities in the construction industry.

The provisional figures released this week show the number of deaths in construction was 72 in 2007/2008 down from 79 in the previous year.

Overall the provisional figures for work-related fatal injuries in the UK saw a drop from 247 last year to 228 fatalities in 2007/2008.

The HSE has tried to focus on the construction industry over the past year with a particular emphasis on the refurbishment sector.

In April it was criticised by MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee for not undertaking enough site inspections and failing to pursue more prosecutions for health and safety breaches.

Judith Hackitt, HSE chair, said: 'The high levels of fatalities in the agriculture and construction sectors continue to be of particular concern to us and will be a major focus of HSE’s work priorities over the coming year.

'Whilst we welcome the headline decrease in overall numbers of fatalities, there is absolutely no room for complacency as the report suggests a plateau in the overall five year trend.

“Great Britain’s position amongst major European Union countries is in relative terms a creditable one, but none can find it acceptable that 228 people died directly as a cause of their work.

“After many years of improvement, it is disappointing that we are on a performance plateau. This stresses the need for everyone, employers and employees alike to make a further effort to reduce this total of human misery.

'Evidence shows that where employers and employees work closely together to agree the agenda and set targets to tackle real issues, they have made significant improvements.

“We want this to continue and we also want to see employers taking more ownership and leadership to embed health and safety in their organisational culture and boardrooms.”