Number of fatal injuries to construction site workers falls by 25% to 79 from last year's high of 105.
Health and Safety Executive figures published this week reveal that the number of construction workers killed on site has fallen 25% this year.

The report shows that the number of fatal injuries to workers dropped by 26 – from 105 in 2000/1 to 79 in 2001/2. It also reveals a drop in the number of fatalities among self-employed construction workers – from 32 to 20 .

However, the HSE research reveals that deaths in the construction industry still represent more than one-third of the 249 workplace deaths in the past year.

Mike Cosman, head of construction at the HSE, welcomed the decline in fatalities and said he hoped it marked a return to the lower rates of the mid-1990s.

He said he hoped the figure of 105 deaths last year was just a blip and that this year's 25% reduction would mark the start of a steady decline.

Cosman added that the next step was to concentrate on lowering the rate of injury to construction employees. He said: "The rate of major injury to employees has shown a downward trend since 1999 and decreased by 12% in 2001/2. Now the HSE needs to concentrate its efforts to reduce this number further."

The HSE report also reveals that in 2001/2 an estimated 137,000 current or recent construction workers had suffered from an illness they believed was caused by their job.

Bill Callaghan, chairman of the Health and Safety Commission, said that occupational health was a key area for improvement.

He said the HSC had provided guidance to employers and had a number of initiatives in place to help to get to grips with the problem.

Callaghan was also cautious in his reaction to the new figures. He said: "I am encouraged to see the reduction in work-related fatalities but it is too soon to tell whether this is the resumption of a downward trend."