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‘No Room For Complacency’ On Cutting Number Of Deaths At Work

Efforts To Improve Health And Safety Must Continue Despite Drop In Deaths In Britain

03.07.2014

Legal experts representing victims of workplace injury and the families of those killed at work have warned there is no room for complacency on efforts to improve health and safety, despite statistics showing the overall number of deaths in Britain has reached a record low.

Provisional data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that 133 workers suffered fatal injuries between April 2013 and March 2014, which marked a reduction from the figure of 150 recorded in the previous 12 months.

In terms of specific sectors, it was revealed that 42 workers in construction died across the period, with 27 fatal injuries sustained in the agriculture sector. Both figures were below the five-year average in each respective area.

Specialist workplace injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who act for people who have been injured at work and the loved ones of victims who have been killed as a result of health and safety failings, have welcomed the drop in figures but warned that efforts must continue to further improve the figures.

Expert Opinion
It is hugely positive to see the overall number of people killed at work drop in Britain across 2013/14, but sadly these figures still show that more than 130 people lost their lives while simply doing their jobs.

"Behind every single one of these deaths is a family, colleagues and a community which have been left devastated by loss and this should not be forgotten.

"Indeed, this simple fact should be the catalyst for employers, the HSE and the Government to continue to push the health and safety agenda forward and ensure these tragic numbers continue to fall across the coming years. One death is simply too many.

"Given that the statistics suggest the current legal regime is working to reduce deaths, we remain concerned that changes introduced last year in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act – which mean employees seriously injured in work accidents would have to prove themselves that their employer had been negligent – will undermine future efforts on this issue.

"We continue to believe that the changes will lead both a dilution of safety standards, but also mean victims of workplace injury will be unable to get much-needed compensation to allow them to get their lives back on track.”

"Health and safety should always be the priority in the workplace, but our work means we regularly see cases when people have suffered catastrophic life-changing injuries or died as a result of problems which should have never occurred.

"These can emerge due to a variety of factors, from employers failing to provide the necessary training or supervision to a lack of appropriate equipment or risk assessments regarding specific tasks.

"It is vital that employers always recognise their responsibilities when it comes to this issue and understand that the consequences of failing to do so can be massive."
Stephen Nye, Partner

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