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HSE 'Minimalist' Workplace Deaths And Injuries Stats Reports Increase In Workplace Fatalities

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has now published its full annual statistics report covering work-related ill health, work-related stress, depression or anxiety, work-related musculoskeletal disorders, occupational lung disease, workplace injury, costs to GB, industries breakdown, European comparisons and enforcement statistics including prosecutions, enforcement notices and fines.

But as CWU’s National Health, Safety & Environment Officer Dave Joyce pints out, these figures come with a heavy caviat; ‘These statistics could look far worse as a more accurate and inclusive set of figures would include 50 workers killed at sea and in the air, 600 workers killed in road traffic accidents whilst working, 300 members of the public killed by work activities.’

The true figure of workplace deaths is therefore in the region of 1,044 as opposed to the 'minimum' of 144!

The fatal statistics released earlier this year and confirmed in this latest report show an annual increase in the number of fatal accidents at work and also a rise in the number of reported cases of worker injuries and ill-health.

However, when you consider that workplace injuries and ill health are vastly under reported; HSE figures can only be taken as a minimum statistic on the true picture.

Dave Joyce continues his review of the newly released HSE Statistics:

The HSE annual statistics show 1.4 million workers were suffering from work-related ill health and around 555,000 from non-fatal injuries in 2017/18.

This is up from 1.3 million reported cases in 2016/17.

The number of working days lost due to work-related illness and injury was 30.7 million working days. A slight decrease from 31.2 million last year.

The total number of workplace fatal injuries however has risen from 137 to 144.

Workplace injury and new cases of ill health cost Britain £15.0 billion a year.

Despite repeated government and HSE claims that the UK is the safest place to work in the EU, the key figures for Great Britain show that in 2017/18 there were:

  • 144 fatal accidents at work.
  • 1.4 million working people suffering from a work-related illness.
  • 595,000 workers suffering work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
  • 2,595 Mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures.
  • 12,000 work-related lung disease deaths.
  • 144 workers killed at work.
  • 555,000 non-fatal injuries to workers.
  • 469,000 workers suffering from work-related musculo-skeletal disorders.
  • 71,062 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR.
  • 13,000 deaths linked to chemical or dust exposure at work.
  • 30.7 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury.
  • 493 cases prosecuted by HSE.
  • 11,522 Enforcement Notices served.
  • £72.6 million health and safety fines paid by offenders.
  • £15 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2016/17).

The statistics confirm the scale of the challenge the HSE faces in making the nation a healthier and safer place to work and shows that a huge improvement is required to prevent deaths, injury and ill health in the workplace. The statistics serve as a reminder to employers of the importance to manage risk and undertake good health and safety working practices in the work place in order to ensure that every worker goes home at the end of their working day safe and healthy. These incidents still affect too many lives every year.

These statistics could look far worse as a more accurate and inclusive set of figures would include 50 workers killed at sea and in the air, 600 workers killed in road traffic accidents whilst working, 300 members of the public killed by work activities.’

Heavy year on year cuts to Government funding of the HSE has undoubtedly, in the Trade Unions’ view, made workplaces less safe and influenced the rise in deaths at work reported for the year.

The increase in workplace deaths may be the first sign of the effect of years of budget cuts and reductions in inspections, Enforcement Notices issued and prosecutions, filtering through. The Government cuts to health and safety funding will gradually, increasingly impact on workers.

The latest increase in reported workplace deaths reported by the HSE undermines the complacent and ever-repeated statement rolled out ‘parrot-fashion’ by Government Ministers and HSE ‘top brass’ that “The UK has the best safety record in the world and one that is the envy of the world.’

The reductions in the HSE’s and Local Authorities’ ability to inspect workplaces are now being widely brought into question. In every aspect of life, you get what you pay for and the UK Government is paying less money and therefore there’s less attention being paid to workplace safety year on year.

A copy of the HSE Official Health and Safety At Work Summary Statistics for GB 2017/18 can be downloaded from the Unionsafety E-Library Database using the search category of ‘HSE Reports.’

Source: CWU / Dave Joyce / HSE



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