Figures published yesterday show that while Britain continues to be one of the safest places to work in Europe, too many workers are still being injured or made ill by work.
Injury and ill-health statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that an estimated 28.2 million working days were lost due to work related ill health or injury in 2013/14.
As a result, the cost to society from such injuries and new cases of ill health due to current working conditions is an estimated £14.2 billion (2012/13 figures based on 2012 prices), according to the latest annual statistics published by HSE today.
Judith Hackitt, the chair of HSE, says that behind every number is the reality of a real person being killed or suffering injuries or ill health while simply doing their job.
The statistics show that, in 2013/14, there were;
- 133 fatal injuries – a fall from 150 the previous year.
- 77,593 other injuries reported under The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). That equates to 304.6 injuries per 100,000 employees.
- An estimated two million people in 2013/14 suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by current or past work.
Judith Hackitt said: “These latest figures remind us what health and safety is really about. 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.
“The health numbers also demonstrate the scale of harm being done to people’s health while at work, too often leading to premature death.
“Jobsworths using ‘elf n safety as a convenient excuse for all manner of things, and those claiming health and safety is a burden, need to reflect on this. Britain has one of the best health and safety systems in the world, but that is cold comfort to those who have suffered loss or suffering that is so easily avoided with sensible and proportionate risk management.
“We all need to commit to focussing on what really matters – ensuring more people return home from work every day and enjoy long and healthy working lives.”
The industries in which workers are most likely to be injured by their jobs have not changed significantly – with construction (1900 major/specified injuries), agriculture (292 major/specified injuries), manufacturing (3159 major/specified injuries) and waste and recycling (486 major/specified injuries) among the higher risk sectors.
TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady said: “The rise in illness and injury should be a wake-up call demanding stronger regulation and enforcement for rogue bosses who put their staff at risk.
“Illness or injury caused by work not only leads to absence, it also leaves people suffering pain, disability and financial loss. Yet workplace illness and injury is preventable. The main responsibility lies with employers, but the government has the duty for enforcement to bring rogue bosses back into line.
“The Health and Safety Executive does an excellent job with its resources, but the government’s decision to reduce the number of inspections is allowing more rogue bosses to get away with it. It’s both a human tragedy and a false economy to continue with two million people living with an illness caused by work, and 600,000 new workplace injuries a year.”