Latest Figures Reveal Training Exercises Cause Most Armed Forces Injuries

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


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

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

The Government’s annual Ministry of Defence (MoD) Health and Safety Statistics Report reveals that during the 2014-15 financial year 38 per cent of injuries suffered by regular armed forces personnel occurred during training and exercise.

The report states that the number of injuries related to training is “consistent over the past four years” which expert military injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say highlights the need for an increased focus on the safety of personnel.

The figures show that in the Army this figure rises to 46% while 37% of the injuries suffered by armed forces cadets also occur during training.

There were 7,100 reported injuries and illness by all armed forces personnel with 45% of these being recorded as major or serious. The report also reveals that there were 18 work-related deaths in the armed forces during 2014-15 with at least two of these requiring further health and safety investigations.

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 as the figures have not improved since last year.

Geraldine McCool, Partner and Head of the Military Injuries Claims Team at law firm Irwin Mitchell believes that training is currently 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.

Expert Opinion
“This is particularly worrying as 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. Our own data shows that the majority of enquiries we receive from injured armed forces personnel relate to inadequate training and supervision, inappropriate manual handling and inadequate protective clothing."
Geraldine McCool, Partner

The legal experts acknowledge that training must be realistic and that such training will carry a degree of risk. However in such circumstances it is even more important that the risks are properly assessed and all action taken to mitigate them while ensuring that the realism of military training is not lost.

Expert Opinion
“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 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 roles and British soldiers being sent to help deal with the new threats in Syria, the future role of the armed forces is changing and that requires more training.

“Many of the injuries suffered are life-changing for the victim and their friends and family and it is vital that they get access to the specialist help, support and rehabilitation they need to get their lives back on track. For many they need expert help in adjusting to civilian life so they can seek employment enabling them to live independently.”
Geraldine McCool, Partner

Geraldine McCool of Irwin Mitchell also highlights a Policy Exchange report in 2013 which raised issues about health and safety in relation to training as well as the recent inquests into the deaths of potential SAS recruits in Brecon Beacons and the transporter accident in Salisbury Plain where 20 soldiers were injured which show that this issue is not being properly addressed.

Expert Opinion
“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’.

“It’s crucial that MOD now honours the Covenant and makes real improvements to safety during its training exercises.”
Geraldine McCool, Partner