4 July 2014

The number of workers killed in Britain last year has fallen to the lowest annual rate on record, with provisional data released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showing that there were 133 fatal injuries between April 2013 and March 2014.

Compared with 150 in the previous year, this means that the overall rate of fatal injury has dropped to 0.44 per 100,000 workers, compared to 0.51 in 2012/13.

Judith Hackitt, who chairs HSE, said: "The release of the annual statistics always leads to mixed emotions. Sadness for the loss of 133 lives, and sympathy for their families, friends and workmates, but also a sense of encouragement that we continue to make progress in reducing the toll of suffering."

Construction remains the most dangerous sector accounting for 42 of the fatal injuries to workers, although this was lower than the average annual figure for the industry of 46.

HSE has also released the latest number of deaths from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. These show that 2535 people died in 2012, an increase from 2291 in 2011.

Ms Hackitt said that the high numbers of deaths relating to mesothelioma are a reminder of historically poor standards of workplace health and safety which, decades later, are causing thousands of painful, untimely deaths each year.

"While we now recognise and are better positioned to manage such health risks," she concluded, "these statistics are a stark reminder of the importance of keeping health standards in the workplace on a par with those we apply to safety."

From Paul Clarke, business writer for Croner