RoSPA disappointed with HSE injury and deaths results
The findings of a report published by the Health and safety Executive on fatal injuries in the workplace, have left RoSPA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) disappointed that the number of workplace deaths has not reduced more. However, the safety charity advises against looking at reportable fatal accident figures alone, as these make up only a small part of the overall burden of work-related death.
The provisional figures for fatal injuries in the workplace this year published by the HSE show a slight reduction in deaths caused by accidents in the workplace – with 173 workers killed in 2011/2012, instead of 175 from the previous year. The total of 173 worker deaths is also 12 per cent lower than the average for the past five years (196). The rate of fatal injury however was the same – 0.6 per 100,000 workers.
The report showed that the construction industry made up 49 of the deaths (reduced from 50 in 2012/11) and agriculture made up 33 of the deaths (increased from 30 in 2010/11). The waste and recycling industry accounted for five deaths (down from nine in 2010/11, with 31 deaths in manufacturing and ten in mining and quarrying. As well as the173 worker fatalities - 90 members of the public were killed in accidents connected to work (excluding railways-related incidents).
Roger Bibbings, RoSPA’s occupational safety adviser, said:
“It is disappointing that workplace accident deaths have not fallen further. Work-related deaths shatter families and they also have massive consequences for businesses, communities and society as a whole. The figures for 2011/12 prove that we must remain focused on prevention. An important part of this involves helping employers, particularly smaller firms, get a handle on effective safety and health management, which we know can be a subject that is widely misinterpreted.
“It must also be remembered that workplace accidents represent just a small part of the overall burden of work-related death. Work-related road accidents, for example, are not included in the HSE figures and are estimated to be much higher in number than accidents in fixed workplaces.
“There is also the largely unseen burden of harm due to work-related health damage. For example, the results of the work which Lesley Rushton and her team at Imperial College London have done for the HSE on occupational cancer mortality projections shows a massive and continuing epidemic.
“Indeed, taking not just cancer but other occupationally related conditions such as COPD, heart disease and so on, it is clear that more workers are dying early as a result of past failure to control harmful exposures than are being killed in accidents. Of course, most of these deaths occur after work has ceased but, in many cases, people are losing up to 20 years of life expectancy. If this occurred through a massive rate of accidents among 55-60 year olds there would be a huge outcry. The level of work-related ill health demonstrates just how severe the consequences of prevention failure can be and it is a major burden on families and society.”
RoSPA is committed to improving skills and awareness, providing information and celebrating good practice in health and safety management in order to save lives, reduce injuries and protect health at work.