Although reports of workers suffering serious or fatal injuries in the course of their work continue to occur too frequently, recent figures indicate that there has been a fall in the overall number of major injuries arising in the workplace.
According to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive, the incidence of major injuries has fallen 11% this year compared to 2011/12.
Looking at the figures in more detail, they show that in Britain between April 2012 and March 2013:
“This year’s figures demonstrate that Britain continues to be improve its health and safety performance, with important falls in the number of workers fatally injured and the number of employees suffering major injuries,” commented Judith Hackitt, the Chair of HSE.
“But we still see too many deaths and injuries occur in the workplace, many of which could have been prevented through simple safety measures. Getting this right is the key to ensuring that everyone can make it home safely at the end of their working day,” she added.
The most recent figures available for European comparison are from 2010, and they show that in that year the standardised rate of work-related fatal injury excluding traffic accidents was 0.71 per 100,000 workers in Britain, which was apparently the third lowest in the EU at that time.
According to the HSE, the top three industries in which workers are most likely to be injured through their work continue to be construction, with a major injury rate of 156.0 per 100,000 employees, the agricultural sector (239.4 major injuries per 100,000 employees) and waste and recycling (369.8 major injuries per 100,000 employees).
Safety organisations have welcomed the reduction in major injuries, but called for more to be done to bring the numbers down further.
Alex Botha, chief executive of the British Safety Council, pointed out that much greater progress was needed if the country was to achieve the Council’s vision that no one should suffer an injury or be made unwell as a result of their work.
He was particularly concerned that agriculture, construction and waste recycling continue to have such high incidences of injury, and that together they accounted for just under half of all workplace deaths.
Alex Botha also highlighted that work-related disease continues to take its toll amongst the workforce.
“HSE reports that around 13,000 deaths each year are attributable to work-related disease including occupational cancers – 40% in construction,” he explained. “The British Safety Council has joined many of its member organisations operating in construction and pledged its support for the Public Health Responsibility Deal for the construction and civil engineering sectors to help address the blight of ill health at work and work-related disease.”
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health has also welcomed the figures, but warned against complacency, suggesting that the recent decline in workplace fatalities and injuries could be in part the result of economic downturn, which has led to a reduction in the amount of work carried out in industries like construction.
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