Government ‘Must Not Turn Back On Preventing Workplace Tragedies’

HSE Statistics Reveal 173 People Killed At Work In 2011/12

05.07.2012

New workplace death figures demonstrate the shocking impact safety failings are having on lives and the statistics may not improve if the Government fails to show caution in its plan to cut regulations, according to lawyers fighting for justice on behalf of the families of those killed at work.

Official provisional figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have revealed that 173 people were fatally injured at work in 2011/12, which marks only a slight fall from the death toll of 175 in the previous 12 months.

The construction industry accounted for the highest number of worker deaths (49), with the services sector following closely behind (44). In addition, the agriculture sector was found to have the highest rate of deaths, with a rate of 9.7 per 100,000 workers.

The findings have been published following six months in which the Government described health and safety as ‘a monster’, as well as putting plans into action to cut the number of regulations faced by employers.

Legal specialists at Irwin Mitchell, who provide support to people left seriously injured as a result of safety failings at work and the families of those killed in such incidents, are now calling on ministers to recognise the importance of this issue as they continue their review of safety regulations.

David Urpeth, national head of workplace injury at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The simply unavoidable truth about these new figures from the HSE is that 173 people lost their lives while at work during 2011/12. It must be remembered that each and every fatality recorded is more than a number – it is an appalling, and often preventable, tragedy which has a huge impact on the families of those involved.

“So much excellent work has been done in recent years to both enforce legislation and raise awareness of the importance of health and safety in workplace environments of all kinds.

“However, the Government’s recent views on this issue have been a concern and could only serve to be detrimental in the long term if attitudes do not change.

“Whilst nobody wants to see unnecessary burdens on business, it is vital that workers and the public are adequately protected. The government must therefore ensure that any reduction in health and safety regulations is done in a way that does not create increased risks to workers or members of the public.

“All workers should be able to go to work safe in the knowledge that their wellbeing is a fundamental priority for their employer, while then being able to return home safely afterwards. These findings shockingly bring the spotlight onto instances this simply has not happened.”

Urpeth added there are concerns that this research may not be a full reflection of all deaths related to work.

He explained: “Due to the methods used in reporting, it is often the case that some deaths – such as road accident fatalities involving workers – are not included in workplace fatality statistics. This means that the number of people killed at work could in fact be much higher than suggested by this research.

“We are contacted everyday by people from across all industries who have seen their lives turned upside down by their employers failing to meet their responsibilities in this area.

“The Government must ensure safety remains at the top of the agenda for all employers and, where necessary, victims are always able to gain access to funds which allow them to seek vital rehabilitation and support for their injuries.”