Accident Statistics Update
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published its latest official accident statistics, indicating a significant decline in the number of workers killed in Britain last year.
The provisional data released by the safety watchdog reveals that 148 workers were fatally injured between April 2012 and March 2013, compared with 172 in the previous year.
In addition, the overall rate of fatal injury has dropped to 0.5 per 100,000 workers, below the five-year average of 0.6.
The new figures also show the rate of fatal injuries in several key industrial sectors, with a total of 39 fatal injuries to construction workers being recorded. This equates to a rate of 1.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, and is a decrease on the 48 deaths recorded in 2011/12.
In the case of the waste and recycling sector, 10 fatal injuries to workers were recorded, a rate of 8.2 deaths per 100,000 workers, and an increase from the 5 deaths recorded in 2011/12.
Across Great Britain, there were interesting differences too, as follows.
- In England, 118 fatal injuries were recorded – a rate of 0.5 deaths per 100,000 workers, and a decrease from the 131 deaths recorded in 2011/12.
- In Scotland, 22 fatal injuries were recorded – a rate of 0.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, and an increase from the 19 deaths recorded in 2011/12.
- In Wales, 8 fatal injuries were recorded – a rate of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 workers, and less than half the 19 deaths recorded in 2011/12.
Announcing the figures, Judith Hackitt, the HSE Chair, said, “These figures are being published in the same week as the 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster, and are a reminder to us all of why health and safety is so important. Although the number of people killed at work has dropped significantly, last year 148 people failed to return home to their loved ones.”
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has welcomed the fall in the number of workplace fatalities but urged the authorities and employers against complacency.
Responding to the statistics, Frances O’Grady, the General Secretary of the TUC, said, “The drop in number of people killed while at work is welcome but any death is one too many and today’s figures will be of no comfort to the families of the 148 people who died last year.”
The General Secretary also highlighted the issue of occupational diseases which are not represented in the fatality figures: “It’s also worth remembering that the number of immediate fatalities is less than one per cent of the total number of people who are killed as a result of their jobs — mainly as a result of diseases such as mesothelioma and other cancers. Many occupational diseases are still on the increase and much more needs to be done to protect workers from the long-term effects of their work. Every year more than 20,000 people die as a result of ill-health brought on by their working conditions.”
She added, “More worryingly, cuts to inspection budgets mean that fewer workplaces will receive a visit from the safety inspector this year. This risks creating an environment where some employers will pay less attention to workplace safety, content in the knowledge that any safety corners cut are unlikely ever to come to light.”
A separate report by a firm of lawyers has found that the average person in Britain suffers an “astonishing” 10,787 injuries, illnesses or accidents in their lifetime, with the workplace qualifying as a top hot spot for injuries.
From regular headaches or constant back pain to never ending bumps, bruises and accidents, the report by the law firm Slater & Gordon claims that sickly Brits experience 134 incidents of ill health each and every year.
The study, based on a survey of 2000 people, also found that the average person suffers at least 4 sore throats, 6 cuts and 2 nose bleeds every 12 months, with a wide range of various ailments listed across the average 80.5 year lifespan.
In addition, four shaving cuts, two cases of toothache and four cricked necks mean the average person experiences a bout of pain at least once every three days.
The study found the average person has suffered 7 accidents in the past 12 months.
Accidents were most commonly suffered at home, but over a third of people have been injured at work.
A fifth of people said their workplace currently has an obvious hazard or danger that isn’t being dealt with in the right way, whilst worryingly, nearly a quarter of Brits felt their employer actually cuts corners when it comes to health and safety.
Simon Allen, Personal Injury Lawyer at Slater & Gordon said, “It is disturbing that in 2013 so many accidents happen in the workplace. Whilst we do of course spend most of our day at work, if followed, health and safety legislation should protect us.”
He said, “Health and safety can be seen as inconvenient and bureaucratic by some but it is designed to ensure than when we go to work we return home to our families unharmed. Identifying risks to health and safety and then addressing them to prevent accidents at work is the key.”