The health & Safety Executive (HSE) has recently released new figures highlighting the costs to society of workers being injured or made ill at work. The figures show that the number of fatal injuries has fallen significantly from the previous year, but though Britain continues to be one of the safest places to work in Europe, an estimated 28.2 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health or injury in 2013/14. As a result, the cost to society from such injuries and new cases of ill health due to current working conditions is an estimated £14.2bn (2012/13 figures based on 2012 prices). Judith Hackitt, the chair of HSE, says that behind every number is the reality of a real person being killed or suffering injuries or ill health while simply doing their job.
The statistics show that, in 2013/14, there were:
- 133 fatal injuries – a fall from 150 the previous year.
- 77,593 other injuries reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). That equates to 304.6 injuries per 100,000 employees.
- An estimated two million people in 2013/14 suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by current or past work.
The industries in which employees are most likely to be injured by their jobs have not changed significantly – with construction (1,900 major/specified injuries), agriculture (292 major/specified injuries), manufacturing (3,159 major/specified injuries) and waste and recycling (486 major/specified injuries) among the higher risk sectors. Judith Hackitt said: “These latest figures remind us what health and safety is really about. We should remind ourselves what these numbers actually mean – the number of times in the last year someone went out to work and either did not return home to their loved ones or came home with life-changing injuries. “The health numbers also demonstrate the scale of harm being done to people’s health while at work, too often leading to premature death. “Jobsworths using ‘elf n safety as a convenient excuse for all manner of things, and those claiming health and safety is a burden, need to reflect on this. Britain has one of the best health and safety systems in the world, but that is cold comfort to those who have suffered loss or suffering that is so easily avoided with sensible and proportionate risk management. “We all need to commit to focussing on what really matters – ensuring more people return home from work every day and enjoy long and healthy working lives.” Rick Brunt, head of HSE’s waste and recycling sector said: “As a priority sector for HSE we will continue to work with the industry to address the poor safety record to further reduce the toll of death and injury. “Everyone involved in the industry has a responsibility to focus their efforts on reducing the number of incidents, and making sure that people working in the industry go home safely at the end of the day, and the shocking number of unnecessary deaths and injuries is tackled.”
Safety & Health Practitioner, 29 October 2014 ;http://www.shponline.co.uk ;