Richard Evens: Rise in workplace deaths acts as a stark reminder for employers

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According to the latest figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) the number of workplace fatalities in the UK has significantly increased over the past year.

In 2010-11, the number of workplace deaths in the UK rose to 171 people, compared to 147 in 2009-2010.

While the number of deaths in the agricultural sector fell from 39 to 34, there was still an increase in fatal injuries in the construction, manufacturing and service industries. For example, there were nine fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers. This more than doubled from those recorded in 2009-10.

It is really worrying to see that the number of deaths in the workplace has risen, following a record low last year. This rather bleak statistic should act as a reminder to all employers not to let health and safety slip down their list of priorities.

There has been much discussion about the planned reduction in HSE inspections; however these should not be interpreted as a reason to reduce focus on workplace safety. After all, it’s vital that all employers make the necessary efforts to ensure their health and safety provision is up-to-scratch. This covers risk management and prevention, as well as having the skills and equipment in place to respond when an accident does occur. If employers do not follow these guidelines, they face severe consequences.

First aid training, for example, is far too often seen as a regulatory tick box by employers, rather than a necessary life skill. But it does save lives. We know that up to 150,000 people die in situations where first aid could have given them the chance to live. With some 59% of people wanting first aid training in the workplace, businesses have the perfect opportunity to help reduce this figure before the progress made in previous years is lost – and more unnecessary workplace deaths occur.

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About Richard Evens

Richard Evens, Commercial Training Director, St John Ambulance

Richard is Commercial Marketing Director at St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid organisation and market leader in workplace first aid training. Responsible for training programmes and educational standards, Richard has been involved in consultation with the HSE since the early development of new guidance for the content and structure of workplace first aid training. He has liaised widely with the HSE and other stakeholders to apply the collective expertise in first aid to the new guidance, becoming a board member of the First Aid at Work Council which was created during this process.

Before joining the charity sector 10 years ago in a retail development role for Oxfam, Richard worked in marketing and logistical roles with Shell and Total Oil. He lives in north west London spending time with his family, trying to keep up with two energetic young children.

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