The HSE has recently published its workplace fatal injury statistics for Great Britain of 2010/2011. HSE notes that the underlying five-year trend for workplace fatalities continues downward. The number of such deaths in 2010/11, 171 workers killed, is lower than the five year average.

But despite the downward trend there are a number of aspects that give serious cause for concern. The number of workplace fatalities rose from 147 in 2009/10 to 171 in 2010/11. There was a significant increase too in the rate of fatal injury per 100,000 workers – up from 0.5 in 2009/10 to 0.6 in 2010/11.

While the number of workplace deaths in the agriculture sector fell from 38 to 35 there was an increased number of deaths in the construction, manufacturing and service sectors. Construction sector deaths rose from 41 to 50, manufacturing sector deaths rose from to 24 to 27 and service sector deaths rose from 42 to 47. In terms of the rate of fatal injury the agriculture and waste recycling sectors stand out as having the highest fatal injury incidence rates.

Julie Nerney, the chief executive of the British Safety Council, expressed her concern at today’s announcement, “The grim reality underlying today’s news is that 171 workers were killed in workplaces across Great Britain in 2010/11. We pride ourselves on the strength of our health and safety regulatory framework, our competence and our commitment to keeping our workers healthy and safe and yet avoidable deaths are still occuring.

“Tragically today’s announcement brings home in graphic terms the consequence of not effectively managing workplace hazards. Had that commonsense and logical course of action been taken in managing workplace hazards it is quite possible that those 171 workers would still be alive and going home to their families at the end of the working day.

“The British Safety Council has corporate members across many sectors. We have a significantly large number of members in construction and manufacturing. We will be re-doubling efforts to work with them to build competence and spread good practice to those organisations in those sectors struggling to be compliant. We owe that much to the families of those who died in needless workplace accidents.“