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Britain became a healthier and safer place to work last year with the number of reported major injuries to employees in manufacturing continuing to fall as it has in the last few years.

According to the latest figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there was a significant reduction in the numbers of people killed, injured or suffering work related ill-health from April 2008 to March 2009.

Across England, Scotland and Wales, 29.3 million working days (equivalent to 1.24 days per worker) were lost to injury and ill health last year, compared with 33.9 million in 2007/08.

Workplace fatal injuries fell from 233 in 2007/08 to a record low of 180 in 2008/09, and there was a reduction of more than 7,000 in the number of workplace injuries classified as serious or incurring more than three days absence from work. Comparison with international data shows Britain to be one of the safest places to work in the European Union.

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HSE chairman Judith Hackitt said the improvements in the numbers of deaths, injuries and cases of ill health at work were encouraging.

“Having shown that Great Britain can achieve a performance that compares favorably with other industrialized nations as we entered the global recession, the challenge now is to maintain that improvement as we move toward recovery and increased activity in some economic sectors,” she said.

Major injuries at work have fallen since 2000 and this trend continued last year with 28,692 workers reported as being injured in 2008/09 (94.8 per 100,000) compared with 29,389 in 2007/08 (96.5 per 100,000).

Within manufacturing, however, the sub-group described as ‘recycling’ has a rate of reported major injury over five times the rate for manufacturing as a whole, and over eight times the rate for all industries.

Relative to other industries, a higher proportion of reported injuries in manufacturing as a whole came from contact with moving machinery, being hit by a moving/falling object, hit by something fixed/stationary and contact with harmful substances.

In 2008/09, the manufacturing sector lost an estimated 2.5 million working days due to workplace injury and work-related ill health.

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