Safety watchdog the Health and Safety Executive is marking its 40th anniversary with an appeal for South East businesses to make the wellbeing of workers their top priority for the new financial year.
It comes as new figures show that 10 people lost their lives while at work across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East and West Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire and Surrey in 2013/14, and 9,419 suffered injury. That compares to 25 deaths and 9,644 injuries across the same counties the previous year.
Statistics were also released today (14 Jan) showing the scale of workplace illness. Across the South East some 184,000 people were estimated to have been made ill through their work over the same period.
Nationally, across Great Britain, there were 133 deaths at work in 2013/14, more than 79,500 injuries were formally reported (through RIDDOR) and over 1.1 million people are estimated to have been made ill.
That is a huge reduction from when HSE was formally established in January 1975 to enforce the Health and Safety at Work etc, Act 1974 – the statute that underpins all health and safety legislation, and that is credited with making the UK one of the safest places to work in the world. In 1974/75 a total of 651 employees alone were killed, and that is without including self-employed workers whose deaths were not recorded in the same way.
The stark decline is welcome, but local employers are being urged to review whether they can do more to protect their workforce.
The latest figures show that those involved in construction, manufacturing and waste and recycling are most at risk, with agriculture another industry where sustained improvement is needed.
Areas of particular concern include falls from height; work on machinery that is poorly maintained and guarded; and failing to properly manage workplace transport.
Mike Wilcock, HSE’s head of operations for the South East, said:
“The families of the workers across the region who sadly lost their lives last year have just had to spend the festive period without their loved ones, while thousands of other workers were made ill through their work or had their lives changed forever by a major injury.
“The figures offer encouragement that we are continuing to head in the right direction, but they also show that we can still go further and challenge the industries where there is room to do more.
“Workplace conditions have improved dramatically in the past four decades, but as employers plan and prepare for the new financial year they need to ensure that health, safety and welfare is a clear focus.”
HSE Chair, Judith Hackitt, added: “In the forty years since HSE was formed, we’ve worked with businesses, workers and government to make Britain a healthier and safer place to work.
“Thousands of serious injuries have been prevented and work-related deaths have reduced by 85 per cent. HSE has helped Britain become one of the safest places to work in the world.
“But we must also recognise that there is still a big challenge to prevent the suffering which does still occur. Seeing the annual statistics always leads to mixed emotions, sympathy for those who have suffered injury themselves and for the families and workmates of those who have lost their lives, determination to improve things further as well as encouragement that we are continuing to make progress in reducing the toll of suffering.
“For the last eight years we have consistently recorded one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers among the leading industrial nations in Europe.
However, in HSE’s 40th year it is right that we acknowledge the progress we’ve made and look to a future of striving to bring down these statistics even further.”
Information on tackling health and safety dangers in workplaces is available on HSE’s website at www.hse.gov.uk.
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- The following table lists the numbers of deaths and injuries to workers across the South East during 2013/14.
- The full statistics, including comparisons to previous years, are available online at http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/index.htm?ebul=postats14 See ‘Tables’ under the ‘Counties and regions’ tab.
- A list of the deaths reported to HSE during 2013/14 is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/foi/fatalities/2013-14.htm (The information is updated on a monthly basis, and does not purport to be a formal statistical release. Subsequent investigation may determine that some are not reportable as workplace deaths, for example deaths due to natural causes.)
- The regional ill health figures are taken from the Labour Force Survey, a large national household survey in which respondents are asked to state whether they believe they are currently suffering from an ill health condition that was caused or made worse by work.
- In 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available across the EU, the standardised rate of work-related fatal injury, excluding traffic accidents, was 0.74 per cent per 100,000 workers in GB – the third lowest in the EU.
- The reporting of health and safety incidents at work is a statutory requirement, set out under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). A reportable incident includes: a death or major injury; any accident which does not result in major injury, but the injured person still has to take seven or more days off their normal work to recover; a work related disease; a member of the public being injured as a result of work related activity and taken to hospital for treatment; or a dangerous occurrence, which does not result in a serious injury, but could have done.