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Static safety figures 'sign of progress'

HEALTH and Safety Executive officials believe the construction industry is showing 'consistent signals of improvement' despite death levels remaining the same as last year.

Official figures unveiled last week showed 70 people were killed in 2003-04, which mirrored the previous year's figures.

Employee fatalities numbered 51 - down from 56 - while fatal accidents for self-employed workers increased from 14 to 19.

The rate of major injuries to employees dropped 6 per cent from 354.9 to 335.1 per 100,000.Of 4,001 major injuries in the sector, 28 per cent resulted from falls from height.

The figures bring into question the achievability of the HSE's Revitalising Health and Safety targets - set at the safety summit in February 2001 - for improvements in construction by 2010.

nA House of Commons debate on health and safety was postponed last week to make way for further discussions on the Hunting Act.