HSE welcomes reduction but warns against complacency as construction activity increases alongside economic recovery

The number of construction deaths fell by 20% last year, according to official figures released today by the HSE.

Forty-one people died in the year ended March 31 2010, compared to 52 in the same period last year. The average number of deaths in the industry over the previous five years was 66.

The HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Philip White, said: “While it’s heartening to see a continued reduction in the number of deaths in construction, it’s tempered by the fact that 41 workers failed to come home to their families last year because of avoidable safety failings.

“It’s too soon to say that the decrease in fatalities is down to any particular reason, but it is imperative that as the economy recovers, health and safety is seen as a priority – we know from past experience that economic recoveries tend to lead to an increase in worker deaths.”

Early figures calculated by Building in April had shown 43 deaths, but it was decided that two of the deaths were not actually within the construction industry. Across all sectors there were 151 workplace deaths.