The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently published statistics for 2014/15 showing a rise in fatal injuries at work among employees. There was also a rise in fatal diseases.

The Health and Safety Statistics - Annual Report for Great Britain, 2014/15 - show that the number of fatalities among employees has increased from 92 in 2013/14 to 99 in 2014/15 after a fall from 99 in 2012/13. The overall average for the last five years is 106 deaths per year. This represents a rate of 0.42 deaths per 100,000 employees.

The same report shows that the rate of fatalities has decreased slightly among the self-employed with 43 deaths recorded in 2014/15 compared to 44 in 2013/14. This represents a rate of 0.89 per 100,000 self-employed. The overall average for the last five years is 50 deaths per year. This represents a rate of 1.14 deaths per 100,000 self-employed.

Overall, 142 workers (employees and self-employed) were therefore killed at work last year, a rate of 0.46 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

In terms of fatal diseases, there were just over 2,500 deaths due to mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lung) in 2013 which were caused by past exposure to asbestos. Sadly, the latest projections form the HSE suggest there will be around 2,500 deaths per year for the rest of this current decade before annual numbers begin to decline.

There was also a rise in the number of mesothelioma cases being assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit - 2,215 new cases in 2014 compared with 2,145 in 2013.

The annual number of lung cancer deaths caused by asbestos is likely to be similar to the number of mesotheliomas. In 2013 there were 217 deaths where asbestosis was recorded as the underlying cause. There were 170 other pneumoconiosis deaths, mostly due to coal dust with a smaller number due to silica.

Neil Todd of Thompsons Solicitors commented “It is alarming that there has been a rise in fatal injuries at work in 2014/15 from the figure for the previous year and no substantive decline over the last 5 years. This is a blight on workplaces nationwide.

The figures for those dying from fatal diseases also demonstrates that the mistakes of previous generations remain something that is killing a substantial amount of workers. This is at a time when Government reforms have made it more difficult for these individuals to access the court system and obtain appropriate compensation”.

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