More workers died in construction than any other industry despite a fall in the number of fatalities from 77 to 72 in 2007/08

More fatal injuries occurred in construction this year than in any other industry group, new figures by the HSE have shown.

Despite an overall reduction in workplace deaths during 2007/08, the rate of major injury in construction remained higher than in any other profession, with 599.2 per 100,000 employees suffering injuries this year.

There were 72 deaths in construction, compared to 77 in 2006/07. Overall, deaths in the workplace fell by around 5%, with 229 fatalities occurring.

Shelly Atkinson-Frost, director of Health and Safety at the Strategic Forum said the statistics were disappointing.

“The causation remains the same,” she said. “Falls from heights, or accidents with transport are usually to blame, but they are all easily preventable.” She added that closer attention needed to be paid to smaller projects on which, she said, most incidents occur.

The rate of work-related musculoskeletal disorders was also higher in construction than across all other industries.

The HSE said the rate of fatal injuries in construction over the past decade had indicated a downward trend, but figures in recent years have shown little change.

Judith Hackitt, Chair of the HSE admitted there is a need for a “step change”, and warned the construction industry is of “particular concern”.

Alan Ritchie, General Secretary of Ucatt said the number of deaths remained “unacceptably high”. He said they were also “misleading”, after a report by the University of Liverpool found only 30% of employees report injuries.

The data also demonstrated the need for more HSE inspectors, said Ritchie.

Hackitt also renewed warnings for employers not to “take their eyes off the ball in the difficult and uncertain months ahead”, amid fears the credit crunch could lead to corners being cut in health and safety on site.