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Workplace fatality numbers 'largely unchanged' over last year, finds HSE

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The number of workers fatally injured in Britain last year remains “largely unchanged” since April 2011, according to The Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE has released provisional data for April 2011 to March 2012, which shows 173 workers were killed - down two from the previous year.

The rate of fatal injury remains the same at 0.6 per 100,000 workers.

Judith Hackitt, the HSE chair, said: "Britain continues to have one of the lowest levels of workplace fatal injuries in Europe, part of a long term downward trend.

"But we must not forget that these are lives cut short, not statistics - every single one of these deaths will have caused terrible grief and anguish for family and friends as well as workmates and colleagues. This is the real tragedy of health and safety failures - lives cut short and loved ones lost.

"We want employers to focus on the real risks that continue to cause death and serious injury. HSE is working very hard to make it easier for people to understand what they need to do and to focus on the real priorities. Protecting people from death and serious injury at work should be at the heart of what we all do."

Figures published today also show the rate of fatal injuries in several of the key industrial sectors:

Forty nine fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded - a rate of 2.3 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 59 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 50 deaths (and rate of 2.3) recorded in 2010/11 and 33 fatal injuries to agriculture workers were recorded - a rate of 9.7 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 35 deaths in the past five years and an increase from the 30 deaths (and rate of 8.7) recorded in 2010/11.

Five fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers were recorded - a rate of 4.1 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of six deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the nine deaths (and rate of 8.4) recorded in 2010/11

In England 130 fatal injuries were recorded - a rate of 0.5 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 157 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 146 deaths (and rate of 0.6) recorded in 2010/11.

In Scotland 20 fatal deaths were recorded - a rate of 0.8 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 25 deaths in the past five years and an increase from the 14 deaths (and rate of 0.5) recorded in 2010/11.

Eighteen fatal injuries in Wales were recorded - a rate of 1.4 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 11 deaths in the past five years and an increase from the 11 deaths (and rate of 0.8) recorded in 2010/11.

Richard Evens, commercial training director, at St John Ambulance, said: "It is encouraging to see that the number of workplace deaths in the UK has not risen this year, but we are disappointed that the figure has not reduced to 2009/10 levels - a record low - or further. Cutting these figures over the past few years, has been a focus for UK Health and Safety, which is why after an increase last year it is disappointing to see that they remain at a similar level. But 173 deaths is still too many and we hope to see this number come down further over the year ahead.

"If UK employers are to reduce the number of tragic workplace incidents, it is essential that they have good health and safety processes in place including provide basic first aid training to their staff. These essential skills should be taken more seriously as they genuinely can save lives. It is the treatment you get in the first few minutes that can make the difference between life and death, and with up to 150,000 people dying in situations where first aid could have given them the chance to live, the need for life-saving skills cannot be overstated."