Fatalities at Work
Labour & European Law Review Weekly Issue 528 12 July 2017
The Health and Safety Executive has revealed in its report on annual workplace fatalities that 137 workers were killed at work between April 2016 and March 2017.
This figure reflects a general downward trend over the last five years. For instance, 147 workers died in 2015/16 while in 2014/15 the figure was 142. In 2013/14, 136 workers died; in 2012/13 the figure was 150; and in 2011/12, 171 workers died.
The new figures show the rate of fatal injuries in several key industrial sectors:
30 fatal injuries to construction workers - the annual average rate of fatalities over the last five years in construction is around four times as high as the all industry rate.
27 fatal injuries to agricultural workers - this sector continues to account for a large share of the annual fatality count. It has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate.
14 fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers were recorded. Despite being a relatively small sector in terms of employment, the annual average fatal injury rate over the last five years is around 15 times as high as the all industry rate.
The new figures also highlight the risks to older workers – around a quarter of fatal injuries in 2016/17 were to workers aged 60 or over, even though they only make up around 10 per cent of the workforce.
Mesothelioma contracted through past exposure to asbestos killed 2,542 people in Great Britain in 2015 compared to 2,519 in 2014. The current figures relating to asbestos-related cancer reflect widespread exposures before 1980. Annual deaths are therefore expected to start to reduce after this current decade.
Of the deaths in 2015, 407 were among women and 2135 were among men. The latest projections suggest there will continue to be around 2500 deaths per year for the rest of this current decade before annual numbers begin to decline. The current figures relating to asbestos-related cancer reflect widespread exposures before 1980.
David Robinson, of Thompsons Solicitors, said “One death at work is one death too many. As well as considering these statistics it must be noted that owing to the fantastic work of our NHS, more workers are receiving outstanding treatment such that they survive but are left with catastrophic and life-changing injuries. The Government must ensure adequate resourcing is available to ensure fatal and serious accidents are properly investigated to uncover any systemic patterns emerging which could ultimately prevent workers dying and being injured at work.”
A fuller assessment of work related ill-health and injuries, drawing on HSE’s full range of data sources, will be provided as part of the annual Health and Safety Statistics release on 1 November 2017.
To read the report in full, go to: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/pdf/fatalinjuries.pdf.