Judith Hackitt, HSE chair, said more needed to be done to reduce casualties in the sector as the organisation released statistics on the number of people killed, injured or made ill by work during 2007/08.
The figures showed workplace deaths fell by five per cent to 229, but construction accounted for nearly a third of this figure with 72 fatalities – a drop of five compared to last year.
Mrs Hackitt said: 'Any improvement in the number of people being injured or made ill by work must be welcomed.
“However, there is a need for a step change. Of particular concern are the agriculture, construction and waste and recycling industries.
“I am also concerned that slips and trips - which can have an enormous impact on peoples’ lives – are still not reducing. HSE is developing a new strategy that seeks to renew commitment from all those involved in health and safety to tackle these challenges and more.
'In the difficult and uncertain months ahead I urge employers not to take their eyes off the ball. Good business management will be vital and good health and safety management is an integral part of that. Health and safety contributes positively to competitiveness and should not be sacrificed in times of financial pressure.'
The figures also showed that 136,000 workers suffered injuries such as amputations, burns or fractures and 2.1 million suffered work related illness.
The HSE confirmed it prosecuted 1,028 with loacl authorities prosecuting 345 health and safety offences.
For more information about the figures click here.