The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released new data released today that shows the number of employees killed in the UK during 2013 has fallen to the lowest annual rate since records began.
133 people were fatally injured while at work in the period April 2013 to March 2014, compared to 150 from April 2012 to March 2013. The information is provisional at this stage before final figures are released in July 2015, although in October 2014, we can also expect data on the numbers of serious injuries and estimates of how many premature deaths due to harmful exposures will be revealed in the future. Each UK country, England, Scotland and Wales, had a drop in deaths although in the case of the latter two, this was only by one death compared to the year before.
The current figures suggest that the overall rate of fatal injury this year has dropped to 4.4 per 1,000,000 workers, compared to 5.1 in every million back during 2012/13. The last time that this data was in complete and comprehensive form was back in 2011. That research has consistently shown that the UK has a lower rate of fatal employee injuries than France, Germany, Italy or Spain, for the eighth year running.
Minister of State for Health and Safety, Mike Penning, commented on the figures:
“Any death at work is a death too many. But these statistics show that workplaces are getting safer.
“The Health and Safety Executive do an excellent job in making sure each and every one of us can go out to do an honest day’s work in the knowledge that our safety is being taken seriously.”
The new figures narrow the deaths down by industrial sectors, for example:
- 27 fatal injuries to workers in agriculture (averaged at 33 for the previous five years)
- 42 fatal injuries to workers in construction, (which is below the five years average of 46)
- 4 fatal injuries to workers in waste and recycling (lower than the average of 7 over five year)
Judith Hackitt, the HSE Chair, said:
“Whilst these are only provisional figures, they confirm Britain’s performance in health and safety as world class. For the last eight years we have consistently recorded one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers among the leading industrial nations in Europe.”
The HSE has also released information on deaths from the industrial disease mesothelioma. This cancer, which is related to exposure to asbestos, might be expected to be less of a problem since the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 outlawed its use in any new construction or engineering projects in the UK. However the condition is one that presents symptoms at a later stage in life, after the exposure has occurred decades before. The new statistics state that 2,535 people died in 2012, which is an increase from 2,291 in 2011.
It has been estimated that mesothelioma cases will rise by up to eight times over the next three decades, as the use of different types of asbestos as an insulating material during previous decades leaves a lasting and morbid legacy. The HSE will launch an asbestos campaign in the autumn of 2014 that targets the tradespeople who are most likely to deal with asbestos, encouraging them to use adequate protection.
Judith Hackitt said:
“The high numbers of deaths relating to mesothelioma are a reminder of historically poor standards of workplace health and safety, which decades later are causing thousands of painful, untimely deaths each year. While we now recognise and are better positioned to manage such health risks, these statistics are a stark reminder of the importance of keeping health standards in the workplace on a par with those we apply to safety.”