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HSE statistics show improvements happening too slowly

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says that the statistics published at the end of October 2008 reveal a reduction in the numbers of people killed, injured or made ill by work during 2007/08, but that some of the key Revitalising targets will probably not be met.

Compared with figures from the start of the decade, the latest statistics show a reduction of around nine per cent in reported major injuries at work, and the trend continues to be downwards. Work-related ill-health has also fallen during this period, although the rate of improvement here is not as great as hoped for. Workplace deaths fell by around five per cent to 229 and, on the basis of the published statistics, Great Britain still has one of the lowest rates of work-related fatalities and injuries across the EU.

Judith Hackitt, Chair of the HSE, said: "Any improvement in the number of people being injured or made ill by work must be welcomed. However, there is a need for a step change. Of particular concern are the agriculture, construction and waste and recycling industries. I am also concerned that slips and trips - which can have an enormous impact on peoples’ lives – are still not reducing. HSE is developing a new strategy that seeks to renew commitment from all those involved in health and safety to tackle these challenges and more.

"In the difficult and uncertain months ahead I urge employers not to take their eyes off the ball. Good business management will be vital and good health and safety management is an integral part of that. Health and safety contributes positively to competitiveness and should not be sacrificed in times of financial pressure."

The Great Britain statistics for 2007/08 show:

  • 229 people were killed at work
  • 136,771 workers suffered injuries such as amputations, burns or fractures
  • 299,000 reportable injuries occurred, equating to a rate of 1000 per 100,000 workers or one per 100 workers
  • 2.1 million people were suffering from work related illnesses
  • 34 million working days were lost due to injury and ill-health (1.4 days per worker), 28 million of which due to work-related ill health and 6 million due to workplace injury

Within the manufacturing sector, the provisional data for 2007/08 shows that the rate of major reportable injuries is similar to that for the previous year at 180.8 per 100,000 employees. By far the worst performing 'manufacturing' sector is recycling, with a major reportable injury rate of 886.7 per 100,000 employees. The HSE notes that, relative to other industries, a higher proportion of reported injuries in manufacturing as a whole were caused by contact with moving machinery and contact with harmful substances.

All the statistics can be viewed on the HSE website.

The HSE acknowledges that while it is on track to meet its Revitalising target for reducing fatalities and major injuries, it will probably miss its targets for reducing ill-health and the number of days lost per worker.

Other statistics for 2007/08 released at the same time show that 7715 enforcement notices were issued by the HSE (down from 8234 in 2006/07) and 1028 offences were prosecuted by the HSE, resulting in 839 convictions. A further 6010 enforcement notices were issued by local authorities and 354 offences were prosecuted by local authorities.

Companies concerned about achieving compliance with health and safety regulations can rely on the expertise available from Pilz Automation Technology to ensure that machinery and work equipment is assessed and made safe before they suffer either an accident or an HSE inspection.

Please contact Pilz to request more information about health and safety consultancy services.

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