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Number of fatalities at work is lowest since records began, says HSE

The number of people killed at work has fallen to a record low, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE report shows in the year ending March 2009 180 people died due to work- related incidents, down from 233 the previous year and the lowest number since records began in 1974.

This compares with 495 deaths in 1981, 368 in 1991 and 251 in 2001.

Judith Hackitt, the HSE chair, said: "We very much welcome any reduction in the number of workers being fatally injured and the fact that the number for 2008/09 is a record low.
"There is inevitably variation in the figures year on year, but we can take heart from the fact that Great Britain consistently has fewer fatal injuries than comparable industrialised nations in the rest of Europe."

She added: "These statistics are encouraging but there is no magic wand in health and safety. When those running organisations show personal leadership, and when workers are involved in tackling the risks they face, safety can be improved and lives saved - that is how we can turn this encouraging sign into real sustained improvement."

But although there is a downward trend, the year-on-year improvement is slowing down.

St John Ambulance trains half a million employees every year in first aid at work. Commenting on the findings, its commercial marketing director, Richard Evans, added: "We welcome the news there has been a reduction in workplace fatalities. It shows taking health and safety seriously can make the difference between life and death. However, 180 deaths are 180 too many."