East Anglia: Downward trend in work-related accidents, says HSE

THE downward trend in work-related injuries in the East is continuing, the health and safety watchdog said yesterday, despite a sharp rise in fatal workplace accidents in the region in the past year.

A total of 10,399 injuries to employees were reported in the East in the year to March, figures from the Health and Safety Executive revealed, down 6.4% on the previous year.

But there were 20 fatal injuries to workers in the region during the period, the worst annual total seen in the East in the last five years and double the number recorded in 2009-10.

The 2010-11 total includes the deaths of four building workers from Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds, in a single incident at Great Yarmouth in January this year.

The number of deaths at work also increased nationally, from 147 to 171, although the HSE said that, overall, the UK continued to have the lowest rate of fatal occupational injuries in Europe.

A total of 2,200 workplace injuries in the East of England were classified as “major” last year, and 8,181 resulted in the victim being off work for more than three days.

The rate of fatal or major injuries per 100,000 employees in the region was 100.1, slightly below the national average of 100.4, while the rate of injuries involving more than three days’ absence was 369.3, above the national average of 366.4.

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Overall, the total injury rate per 100,000 employees in the region fell to 469.4, compared with a five-year average in the region of 519.1.

The HSE said that, although there was a downward trend in workplace injuries within the region, there was no clear trend in terms of work-related health.

Based on survey evidence, an estimated 111,000 peple in the region believed they were suffering from a work-related illness last year, representing a rate of 3,600 per 100,000 people, or 3.6%.

An estimated 2.0million working days were lost in the region during the year due to workplace injury or work-related ill-health, equivalent to 0.9 days per worker.

Nationally,24,700 major injuries were reported, down from 26,268 in 2009/10, and 90,653 injuries kep people off work for more thant hree days, down from 96,427 the previous year.

An estimated 1.2million people said they were suffering from an illness caused or made worse by their work, down from 1.3 million in 2009/10.

The construction and agricultural industries continued to report the highest levels of work-related injuries, with disproportionately high numbers of incidents, said the HSE.

HSE chairman Judith Hackitt said: “The fall in the number of people being injured by work is, of course, to be welcomed but we did also see an increase in the number of fatalities during the year.

“Britain can be proud that it has one of the best health and safety records in Europe but, as the increase in the number of fatalities makes clear, we can never let up in our commitment to addressing the serious risks which continue to cause death and injury in workplaces.