New figures published today by the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) show that 226 people were killed in work-related accidents around Britain in 2002/03, only 25 fewer than in 2001/02.
HSC Chair Bill Callaghan described the figures as disappointing.
"I am not surprised at these figures - they confirm the size of the occupational health problems we face and that progress on reducing injuries has broadly reached a plateau. I am disappointed that we have still not seen a step-change in health and safety performance."
During the year, the rate of major injury to employees also rose by 1.9 per cent on 2001/02 113.0 per 100,000 employees. However the rate of injuries whose effects lasted more than three days fell by 2.4 per cent.
The most common cause of major injury to employees continues to be slipping and tripping, accounting for more than a third of all major injuries.
One in four of over-three-day-injuries in 2002/03 were caused by handling, lifting and carrying, with slipping and tripping accounting for a further quarter. Almost two-thirds of these over-three-day injuries occurred in the services sector.
"Successive falls in construction-related fatalities over the last two years are certainly welcome news," Bill Callaghan said, "but we must be consistently seeing fewer deaths, fewer injuries and fewer assaults on people’s health.
"We still have a long way to go – falling from height remains the most common kind of accident – but we can at least be confident we are targeting the right areas."
"The enforcing authorities – HSE and their local authority partners – cannot do it all. To deliver lasting improvements in health and safety, we must have real commitment from industry – and from many other stakeholders as well.
The HSC estimates that 40.2 million working days were lost to injury during 2001/02.