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Irwin Mitchell Backs Health And Safety Week Of Action

Campaign Calls For Reduction In Workplace Injuries


A workplace injury expert at national law firm Irwin Mitchell is urging employers to do all they can to improve safety standards in businesses across the UK, as a week-long campaign on the issue gets underway.

Health & Safety Week of Action 2011 is running from February 28th to March 5th and is set to focus on a range of campaigning activities calling for more to be done to cut the number of people seriously or fatally injured at work.

A particular focus of the campaign – organised by the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group – is the cuts faced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which it has been claimed will lead to poorer enforcement and potentially a rise in workplace injuries and illness.

Irwin Mitchell regularly represents victims who have been seriously injured in avoidable incidents at work, as well as the loved ones of those tragically killed when firms have failed to follow the recognised guidelines and regulations.

In 2009/2010 1,320 offences were prosecuted by HSE and local authorities while over 15,000 enforcement notices were issued to businesses not complying with safety laws.

David Urpeth, national head of workplace injuries at the law firm, said: “Health and safety should always be a priority for businesses, yet the figures that 152 people were killed at work between April 2009 and March 2010 highlight that this simply isn’t the case.

“ It  must be remembered these are not just statistics. These figures represent 152 people who died unnecessarily at work. Each of these deaths have a tragic story behind them with a legacy of suffering for family and friends left behind.

“In addition to fatalities, I see on a daily basis the misery caused by serious work accidents. They can and often do lead to life changing injuries.

“So many of our cases – whether, for example,  they are linked to asbestos exposure, falls from height or industrial diseases – highlight the very real risks which remain present in so many workplaces across the country. In addition, it is vital that the general public are protected whenever projects are carried out in public places.

“Unfortunately, there is the very strong possibility that this figure might only rise if cuts to the HSE are handled in a manner which has a direct impact on the standards of safety being upheld.”

Backed by the likes of the NAPO, NUJ and RMT, the Health & Safety Week of Action 2011 campaign is calling for workers to lobby their MPs on the issue and also includes a rally at the House of Commons on March 2nd.

Welcoming the campaign, David Urpeth added: “So much of our work is about gaining answers into how accidents in the workplace happen, as well as reassurances that lessons have been learnt which will ensure similar mistakes are not seen in the future.

“The figures say it all – only a greater focus on health and safety will ensure that fewer lives are put at risk. Steps towards achieving this can only be taken if the government places the right emphasis on health and safety by thinking twice about HSE cuts.”

“Every single person, regardless of their trade, deserves the right to be able to go to work and return home safely at the end of the day. Sadly, all too often, this does not happen and lives are shattered or lost."