The long-term improvement seen in health and safety can continue with a focus on the biggest risk factors, such as preventing exposure to asbestos, and using guardrails to prevent falls from height.
Both are still among the most common causes of workplace ill health and injury, and while little can be done about historical asbestos exposure, guardrails are an immediate precaution that can reduce the risk of future falls.
In the latest fatality statistics from the HSE, several of the key figures have risen over the past year – including the overall number and rate of fatalities.
During 2014-15, 142 workers died as a result of a workplace incident, equivalent to 0.46 per 100,000, and up from 136 fatalities (0.45) in the previous year, which was an all-time low.
The HSE stresses that as fatalities are now fairly uncommon anyway, some variation is to be expected, but HSE chair Judith Hackitt says “every fatality is a tragic event”.
While fatalities were up slightly in agriculture and in waste and recycling, the construction sector lost 35 lives in 2014-15, down from 44 in the previous year and 45 on average over the past five years, perhaps an indication that measures like edge protection are leading to tangible lifesaving results.