According to the latest figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the number of workplace fatalities in the UK has risen markedly over the past year.
In 2010-11, 171 people were killed at work, compared to 147 in 2009-10. The biggest increase in fatalities came in the broad category of ‘services’ where 47 workers died compared with 33 the previous year. The construction sector saw a rise in deaths from 41 to 50, and there was an increase from 24 to 27 deaths in manufacturing organisations. In the water, sewerage waste and recycling sector, where accident levels are notoriously high, the number of deaths more than doubled from four to 10. A decline in the number of deaths was seen among agricultural workers (figures down five from 39 to 34).
Judith Hackitt, chairman of the HSE, has called the increase in British workplace deaths “disappointing”, but has also pointed out that the UK still has one of the lowest rates of fatal workplace injuries of anywhere in Europe. The overall death total for 2010-11 was still less than the five-year average for the UK, and it’s been suggested that the figures for last year were lower because of the recession. Commenting on the figures, she said:
“We all have a role to play – employers, employees and regulators – and leadership is fundamental to maintaining and improving our performance even further. In a world of work which is constantly changing, we must all continue to review what we do and how we do it and strive to become even more effective at managing risks which cost lives.”
A risk assessment is an important tool to protect employees and businesses from accidents and ill health. Employers are legally required to assess the risks in the workplace so a plan can be put in place to control the risks. This process helps employers focus on those risks that have the potential to cause harm, most of which can be readily controlled by straightforward measures. Call the Health for Work Adviceline for guidance on how to ensure the workplace is a healthy one for your employees – 0800 0 77 88 44 (www.health4work.nhs.uk).