Fewer people in Scotland are dying, being seriously injured or made ill through their work, according to figures for 2009/10 released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). There were 2,548 serious workplace injuries recorded in the region last year compared to 2,688 in 2008/9 and 23 deaths – 3 fewer than the previous year.

The estimated number of people suffering from work-related illnesses fell by 7,000 from 104,000 in 2008/09 to 97,000 last year.

Paul Stollard, Regional Director for Scotland, said: “Again this is a step in the right direction. However, these figures show that there are still numerous cases where the health and safety of workers is not being taken seriously. This is not trivia. Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees. Health and safety needs to be at the very heart of the business and not seen as an add-on, tick-box exercise at best or an unnecessary burden at worst.”

Across England, Scotland and Wales, 28.5 million working days (equivalent to 1.2 days per worker) were lost to injury and ill health last year – compared with 29.3 million in 2008/09.

In 2009/10, an estimated 2.5 million working days were lost in Scotland (full-day equivalent) to workplace injury and work-related ill health. This equates to an average annual loss of an estimated 1.2 days per worker.

National workplace fatal injuries fell from 179 in 2008/09 to a record low of 152 in 2009/10, and there was a reduction of more than 11,000 in the number of workplace injuries classified as serious or incurring more than three days absence from work.

Comparison with international data still shows Britain to be one of the safest places to work in the EU.

Judith Hackitt, Chair of HSE said: “It is encouraging to see further reduction in the number of people being killed and seriously injured at work. We now need to ensure that the improvements which are being made continue. Every statistic represents an individual or a family which is now suffering as a result of health and safety failings at work.

“Britain remains one of the safest places to work in the EU and we are rightly proud of this record. The challenge now is to focus on those areas where improvement is slow to emerge.

“We know what good practice looks like but there remain significant areas of poor practice which still result in serious harm to people at work. These statistics also remind us yet again of the significant gains which are yet to be made in reducing the harm caused to people’s health by work.”

Major injuries at work have fallen since 2000 and this trend continued last year with 27,096 workers reported as being injured in 2009/10 (91.0 per 100,000) compared with 29,000 in 2008/09 (95.2 per 100,000).

The number of people estimated to be suffering from work-related ill health in 2009/10 was 1.3 million. Almost 1.2 million fewer working days were lost to ill health – a total of 23.4 million.