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Since 1974, the lives of some 5,000 workers in the United Kingdom have been saved due to accident prevention measures, according to the Health and Safety Commission. This estimate takes into account the trend toward workers moving to lower-risk service sector jobs and away from heavy industry.
In its report, "Measuring Up... Performance Report 2006," the HSC said there were 614 work-related deaths in 1975 compared with 212 for 2005/06. In spite of the improvements, the HSC said that there is "a great deal more to do."
Six years ago, the regulator set targets for reducing work-related ill health, injuries and days lost. Last month, it said that it was on track for meeting the ill-health and days-lost targets, but would not meet the 10-year target for fatal and major injuries.
The HSC said that regulation must keep pace with the shift toward the service sector in the United Kingdom and the emergence of a more diverse workforce in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and patterns of work. "This means more focus on occupational health issues and continuing to reach workers and employers in various ways," the HSC said in the report.
Separately, the Health and Safety Commission and the Health and Safety Executive could merge into one regulatory body under plans unveiled by the HSC.
The HSC has published a public consultation document on its Web site seeking views on merging the HSC, which has responsibility for occupational health and safety regulations in the United Kingdom, with the HSE, which is responsible for enforcing those rules.
In a statement, the HSC said that it believes that a merger with the HSE would modernize its corporate governance and provide a "stronger voice for health and safety" in the United Kingdom.
The merger would create a health and safety regulator with a more accountable structure, better decision-making ability and membership for representatives from employer and employee backgrounds, the HSC said.
The consultation runs until March 5 and can be viewed at www.hse.gov.uk/consult/live.htm.
"Measuring Up... Performance Report 2006" is available free of charge at www.hse.gov.uk.