Figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2014 showed that Britain is one of the safest places to work in the EU, however with 133 deaths and over 78,000 people injured in the last year alone, just how good are the health and safety standards in the UK?
Recent statistics show that as well as numerous employees sustaining injuries in the workplace, over 1.1 million employees suffer from a work-related illness, costing society, on average, £14.2 billion a year to treat.
Illnesses in the workplace cost employers 60% more than injuries throughout the working year. The report also showed that 28.2 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury in 2013/14.
The worrying figures on health and safety standards show that male employees are more likely to be injured than female members of staff. Inexperienced or new workers were also more likely to being involved in an accident.
According to the HSE the most common accidents are slips, trips, and falls, injuries obtained from workers carrying heavy loads and falling from a height.
Construction, agriculture and transport workers were found to be at the greatest risk of being involved in an accident in work, with construction sites proving to be one of the most dangerous areas to work in the UK.
A report conducted by the HSE into health and safety for construction workers found that 40% of sites were failing to properly protect workers. The month long inspection found that 20% of the 1,748 sites inspected required formal enforcement by HSE inspectors due to the poor standards of safety measures in place.
According to the report, a vast majority of issues and dangers observed by HSE inspectors were simply a result of poor planning from management, with many of the issues being preventable. 35% of the issues uncovered involved failure to deal with asbestos, failure to control and protect staff from exposure to harmful dusts, noise and vibration, or insufficient welfare.
The most common breach of health and safety however was failure to provide appropriate safety equipment for employees working at heights, with 42% of all enforcement notices served as a result to properly protect staff working at heights.
Inspectors at over 200 of the construction sites inspected had to stop work immediately due to poor safety standards.
Speaking in regard to the figures uncovered in the HSE’s analysis of safety in the UK construction industry, HSE’s Chief of Construction, Philip White said: “These results show that whilst the majority of employers in the refurbishment sector are getting it right, a significant part of the industry is seriously failing its workers.
“The inability to properly plan working at height continues to be a major issue, despite well-known safety measures being straightforward to implement.
“It is just not acceptable that Inspectors had to order work to stop immediately on over 200 occasions because of dangerous practices.”
He added: “We also find health is often overlooked as its implications are not immediately visible, however the effects of uncontrolled exposure to deadly dusts such as asbestos and silica can be irreversible.
“We need to continue to educate industry through initiatives like this and encourage a change in behaviour on small projects where over half the industry’s fatal accidents still occur and many workers become seriously ill.”
Judith Hackitt, the chair of HSE, said: “ 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.”
Whilst prevention is better than a cure, accidents are sadly part of working life in the UK.
Under current health and safety laws, the wellbeing of an employee lies with their employer. Employers must ensure:
As noted by the Health and Safety Executive: "All workers are entitled to work in environments where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled".
If you believe your employer has failed to ensure safety in the workplace and you have suffered as a result, you may be entitled to receive compensation.
In order to make a personal injury claim it is imperative to have as much evidence to support your case as possible. In order to make a claim it is vital to note important details such as when, where and how the accident happened, as well as any witnesses to the incident. Witnesses may be interviewed by your solicitor, and statements may be used to support your claim.
When making a claim it is also essential to obtain a medical report to show injuries sustained, as well as proof of loss of earnings. Any proof you can provide showing that the accident was a result of negligence and outwith your control is beneficial to your claim. Furthermore if you are part of a trade union, additional financial or legal support may be offered to you in order to hold those responsible to account.
An injury can have a detrimental effect on your life and compensation could ease any issues you are having as a result of the injuries sustained. Our team of dedicated solicitors will work with you to backup your claim and make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
If you have been involved in an accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to make a compensation claim. We work on a no win, no fee basis. To find out if you are entitled to make a personal injury claim, contact us today using our online contact form, or call us on 0808 163 7219.