New Figures Reveal Training Exercises Cause Most Armed Forces Injuries

Specialist Military Injury Lawyers Say More Must Be Done To Prevent Training Accidents


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New figures have revealed that the vast majority of serious injuries suffered by our armed forces personnel occur during training exercises and specialist military lawyers say the future role of the army means this could be set to increase.

The Government’s annual Ministry of Defence (MoD) Health and Safety Statistics Report reveals that during the 2013-14 financial year 38 per cent of armed forces personnel and MoD civilian employees (760 people) who suffered major or serious injuries did so in training exercises, and needed hospital treatment for more than 24 hours or it left them unable to complete their duties for seven days.

Specialist military injuries lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who represent the victims of injury and families of people who have died in accidents while serving in our armed forces say that the figures are ‘disturbing’ and show that there is long way to go to improve conditions for our troops.

Expert lawyers at the firm say that training will be even more important than ever for soldiers in the face of the changing nature of the army due to:

  • The return of troops from Afghanistan to training in England
  • A re-focus of training to cover new demands for deployment such as the proposal to train Syrian rebels in Jordan.

Geraldine McCool, Partner and Head of the Military Injuries Claims Team at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said:

Expert Opinion
The latest statistics are extremely disturbing as they not only follow the trend of training exercises being the biggest cause of injuries, but they also come at a time when the way our armed forces are being deployed is changing and there will inevitably be a period of intense and different training for our soldiers.

“Clearly being in the armed forces is a potentially dangerous vocation, but we have seen first-hand from the victims of accidents and their families that far too many people are being injured and even killed in avoidable training incidents in the UK and abroad.

“The real worry is that with our troops being withdrawn from combat in Afghanistan and deployed in different positions and British soldiers being sent to help deal with the new threats in Syria, the future role of the army is changing and that requires more training for staff.

“The statistics are particularly disappointing given that Philip Hammond, the then Secretary of State for Defence, issued a policy statement in June 2013 requiring that the MOD minimised work related fatalities, injuries and ill-health and reduced health and safety risks so that they were as low as reasonably practicable.

“The danger is that if the health and safety of training exercises is not improved then the statistics next year could look even worse. Behind every number is a victim and their friends and family. Many of them will have had their lives changed forever because of the injuries they have suffered and it is vital that they get access to the specialist help, support and rehabilitation they need to help get their lives back on track.

“We need to remember that a Policy Exchange report in October 2013 raised issues about applying health and safety and duty of care standards to military training. The authors of the paper pointed to a potential conflict between ‘the requirement to train people better for the tough challenges they face and the requirements to make training less perilous’.

“Recent debates, including the House of Lords have asked whether the MOD should owe any duty of care at all to service personnel in certain circumstances. There must be a concern that training will become a target for reform.

“The Armed Forces Covenant notes that ‘The Government has a responsibility to promote the health, safety and resilience of servicemen and women; and to ensure that they are appropriate prepared, in the judgment of the chain of command, for the requirements of army training activities or operations on which they are to be engaged’.

“We call upon the MOD to honour the Covenant.”
Geraldine McCool, Partner

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Military Injuries Claims.