Workplace Accidents Still a Major Problem in the UK

Too many employees in Britain’s workplaces are still being injured by incidents while carrying out their duties. Despite the UK being one of the safest places to work, annual statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), based on the Labour Force Survey (LFS), show around 555,000 workers suffered non-fatal injuries in 2017/18, while there were 144 fatal injuries and 1.4 million suffered from work-related ill health.

The combined total of workplace injury and illness cost Britain £15 billion a year, with injuries accounting for £5.2 billion. This resulted in 30.7 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury. These figures confirm the scale of the challenge we have in making the UK a healthier and safer place to work.

Martin Temple, HSE Chair, said: These figures should serve a reminder to us of the importance to manage risk and undertake good health and safety practice in the workplace. Great Britain’s health and safety record is something we should all be proud of, but there is still much to be done to ensure that every worker goes home at the end of their working day safe and healthy. Collectively we must take responsibility to prevent these incidents that still affect too many lives every year, and continue to play our part in helping Great Britain work well.”

Construction and agriculture continue to be the most dangerous places to work

Agriculture, forestry and fishing, construction, accommodation and food services, wholesale and retail trade (including motor vehicle repair), public administration and defence, and manufacturing all had significantly higher injury rates than other industries.

The agriculture sector’s injury rate (3,690 per 100,000 workers) was 107% higher than the industry average (1,780 per 100,000 workers), while construction was 47% more at 2,620 per 100,000 workers. The other sectors statistically significantly higher include:

  • Accommodation - 2,320 - 30%

  • Wholesale/retail trade - 2,200 - 25%

  • Public admin/defence - 2,190 - 23%

  • Manufacturing - 2,180 - 22%  

For information on the UK’s top 10 most dangerous industries to work, take a look at this blog post.

Fines for businesses breaching HSE rules continues to grow

Since the introduction of new sentencing guidelines on 1st February 2016, the value of fines collected has increased by 87%, jumping from £38 million in 2015/16 to £72.6 million in 2017/18. Manufacturing was the most fined industry with £27 million worth of penalties issued, followed by construction at £18.9 million and water supply/waste management at £5.6 million, which was a 49% increase compared to 2016/17.

Other sectors that saw notable increases in fines were human health and social work, with a 150% rise (from £1.8 million to £4.5 million) and distribution, hotels and restaurants at 70% (from £3 million to £5.2 million).

For some companies, fines issued for breaches in health and safety could be the difference between staying in business or facing bankruptcy. Although the new penalties may seem tough, they are in place to urge companies to assess their current health and safety procedures and commit to further improving standards.

Difficulties with following HSE legislation

Research into the findings of the HSE’s survey of managing health and safety in the workplace highlighted that a quarter of businesses see the complexity of legal obligations as a major difficulty in addressing issues. Related to this, 17% of organisations see the required paperwork as a difficulty, while lack of resources - either staff or time (19%), money (15%) or expertise/specialist support (10%) - is another problem.

Competency is the most vital skill for managing health and safety in the workplace, and every level of an organisation should be involved. Training directors, line managers and workers to be more aware of risks and understand what action needs to be taken when a hazard arises will help to promote a safe and healthy workplace.

To help raise awareness of accidents in the workplace, we have created a visual guide on the risks that many companies are missing that may increase the likelihood of an accident.

Without regular checks, a seemingly safe workplace can hide serious health and safety risks likely to cause harm to employees, visitors or members of the public. In reality, it may be impractical to prevent every imaginable hazard, but no one wants to think that they could have done more if an accident were to take place.

Categories: News, Workplace Accidents
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