Work-related deaths fell slightly in Great Britain in the 2002-2003 period, but serious injuries rose by 1.5 percent, with agriculture, construction, manufacturing and services all experiencing increases, according to a new report by the Health and Safety Commission (HSC).

The number of fatalities to workers decreased by 10 percent to 226 in 2002-2003 from 251 in 2001-2002. The number of fatal injuries to members of the public decreased by one to 392. Approximately two-thirds of these were due to acts of suicide or trespass on railway systems. There were 91 non-railway fatal injuries to members of the public. Of these, 80 were in the services industries, and of these 45 were in health and social work.

The most common cause of major injury to employees continues to be slipping and tripping, accounting for 37 percent of all major injuries.

Being struck by a moving or falling object and falling from height both accounted for 14 percent of major injuries, while being injured while handling, lifting or carrying objects accounted for 12 percent.

Musculoskeletal disorders were the most commonly reported work-related illness, with an estimated 1.1 million people affected.

A 2001-2002 survey of self-reported work-related illness gave a prevalence estimate of over half a million people in Britain who believed they were experiencing work-related stress at a level that was making them ill.

Occupation groups with the highest overall self-reported prevalence rates in 2001-2002 included protective services (police), health and social welfare associate professionals (nurses), skilled construction and building trades, and teaching and research professionals.

The numbers of deaths from mesothelioma and of new disablement benefit cases of asbestosis continue to rise, reflecting past exposures to asbestos. Specialist doctor surveillance data for occupational asthma indicate a possible decrease in incidence in the last three years.

In 2002-2003, Britain's Health and Safety Executive issued 13,263 enforcement notices, an increase of 20 percent. The number of enforcement notices issued by HSE dropped in the early 1990s but has risen since then.