News & Views

Disappointing UK workplace death statistics

BY Thomas Elliott
Health & Safety
BG Orange

The latest figures on the number of UK workplace fatalities have been released by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).  The provisional figures for the period April 2011 to March 2012 indicated that 173 employees were killed during the course of their work which is only 2 less than the previous 12 months.

This means that the rate of fatal injury remains consistent with the previous year of 0.6 per 100,000 workers.  

The number of fatalities per sector is as follows:  

  • 33 in agriculture
  • 10 in mining and quarrying
  • 31 in manufacturing
  • 6 in Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply & Water supply, sewerage, Waste Management and Remediation Activities;
    5 of which were in Waste collection; treatment and disposal activities; materials recovery
  • 49 in construction
  • 44 in services

Although the UK consistently has one of the lowest levels of workplace fatalities in the EU, the Chair of the HSE, Judith Hackitt stated that “every single one of these deaths will have caused terrible grief and anguish for family and friends, as well as workmates and colleagues”.  She also called on the continual focus on “real risks” by employers and commented that regulators are “working very hard to make it easier for people to understand what they need to do and to focus on the real priorities”. 

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) stressed that the lack of any significant improvement in the statistics were “disappointing”.   Dr Luise Vassie of IOSH also commented that “Alarmingly, these figures aren’t representative of the real picture, as they don’t include the thousands of people who have died from work-related illnesses and driving for work.” 

The TUC commented that the rate of work related fatalities significantly decreased in previous recessions and were “worried” by the statistics.  Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC, said “During the past two years we have seen a considerable fall in the number of routine safety inspections and, at the same time, both the HSE and local authorities have had their funding cut. Yet still we see the Government continuing to attack what they claim is an unnecessary health and safety culture – a view that is unlikely to be shared by the families of the 173 people who died last year as a result of their jobs.”

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