U.K. workplace fatalities fall slightly in 2007

But deaths in agricultural sector increased and construction fatalities still high

The number of workers killed on the job in the United Kingdom fell slightly last year, according to government statistics.

Numbers from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showed 228 people died as a result of workplace accidents in 2007-2008, compared to 247 workers in 2006-2007.

The report also found a slight increase in the number of agricultural workers killed (up from 36 to 39) and a slight decrease in the number of construction workers killed (down from 77 to 72).

While the number of workplace deaths has been decreasing over the past few decades, the rate of decrease has slowed over the past 15 years and there has been very little change in the overall rate in the past six years, according to the HSE.

After many years of improvement, it is disappointing that the numbers have plateaued, said HSE chair Judith Hackitt. The high levels of fatalities in the agricultural and construction sectors will be a major focus and priority for the HSE in the coming year, said Hackitt.

The HSE should be taking a more rigorous approach to inspections, enforcements and prosecutions, said Alan Ritchie, president of construction union Ucatt.

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