UK is still one of the safest places to work in Europe
Posted on: 07/07/2015 By: Lee Rance
The HSE has provisionally released the latest data on workplace fatalities in the UK. 142 workers were fatally injured at work between April 2014 and March 2015, this works out at a rate of 0.46 fatalities per 100,000 workers. The figure was a slight increase on last year’s numbers of 132 but still sees a downward trend over the last 20 years.
Some deaths are excluded from these statistics as they are reportable under other legislation. The main exclusions are as follows:
- Fatal accidents involving workers travelling on a public highway (a ‘road traffic accident’). Such incidents are enforced by the police and reported to the Department for Transport. Those killed whilst commuting (travelling from home to work, and vice versa) are also excluded.
- Fatal accidents involving workers travelling by air or sea. These incidents are the responsibility of the Air Accident Investigation Branch and Marine Accident Investigation Branch, and reported accordingly.
- Fatal injuries at work due to ‘natural causes’, usually heart attacks or strokes, unless brought on by trauma due to the accident.
- Accidents to members of the armed forces.
Also, these figures don’t include deaths from asbestos related cancer (Mesothelioma). This number (2538 in 2013) is rising each year and is expected to peak in 2017-2018 and then drop off rapidly. Exposure to asbestos in the UK is estimated to have peaked around 1963 and decreased rapidly thereafter. By 1999 the use and supply of asbestos was banned in the UK, and work on asbestos already in place is now closely regulated.
The workplace fatality figures are broken down into key industries:
- Construction – 35 down from 44 the previous year.
- Agriculture – 33 an increase from 27 the previous year.
- Waste and recycling – 5 an increase from 4 the previous year.
The Chair of HSE Judith Hackitt said: “It is disappointing last year’s performance on fatal injuries has not been matched, but the trend continues to be one of improvement. Our systems and our framework remain strong as demonstrated by our performance in comparison to other countries.
“Every fatality is a tragic event and our commitment to preventing loss of life in the workplace remains unaltered. All workplace fatalities drive HSE to develop even more effective interventions to reduce death, injury and ill health.”
The earliest data on fatalities recorded was in 1974, the year the Health and Safety at Work Act was introduced. In that year there was a shocking 651 fatalities. In fact fatal injuries to employees has fallen by 87% since then. Even when the figures are compared with those of 20 years ago (350 fatalities) you realise just how far we have come and just how effective the interventions developed by the HSE are.
Sometimes it’s hard to get away from the figures and realise that behind every workplace fatality there are a devastated family and friends. That is why we must keep on striving to improve our standards of safety in the workplace so we continue to see this figure fall year on year and keep the UK as one of the safest places to work in the world.
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Until next time.