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Health and Safety at Work


Health and Safety at Work

Introduction - why does Health and Safety at work matter?

The subject of health and safety at work (and in the home) has acquired a bad press in recent years (e.g. “elf ‘n safety” stories), usually undeservedly. Officials at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) spend much time trying to counter-act health and safety scare stories and criticisms in the media.

Nevertheless every business must pay attention to this subject. Severe injuries and death are unfortunately caused by accidents at work on a weekly basis

Quite apart from the human suffering and life-changing aspects caused by work accidents, fines for health and safety offences may amount to thousands of pounds, tens of thousands for severe injuries and six figure amounts in the case of fatalities.

In serious cases, directors or senior managment may be sentenced to imprisonment.

Workplace injury - all industries

Numbers and rates of injury at work have reduced substantially over the last ten years or so. In recent years, however, self-reported injuries show signs of levelling off.

An estimated 629 000 workers had an accident at work in 2013/14. Of these injuries: 203 000 led to over 3 days absence from work; of which 148 000 led to over 7 days absence (LFS).

Rates of self-reported non-fatal injury at work have generally followed a downward trend over the last ten years or so. In recent years, however, they show signs of levelling off.
77 593 non-fatal injuries to employees were reported in 2013/14 (provisional). In the previous year 80 368 were reported. The reporting requirements changed in October 2013 – mid way through the year – so these numbers aren't directly comparable.

There are emerging signs that the downward trend for reported, non-fatal injuries may be slowing-down. Analysis is complicated by recent changes in the reporting requirements.
Under the old RIDDOR reporting requirements self-reported results suggested that just over half of all non-fatal injuries to employees were actually reported. The self-employed reported a much smaller proportion.
Under the new RIDDOR reporting requirements (2012/13 and 2013/14), early indications suggest reporting levels of non-fatal injuries to employees have fallen below half.

Fatal injuries to workers

The provisional figure for the number of workers fatally injured in 2014/15 is 142, and corresponds to a rate of fatal injury of 0.46 deaths per 100,000 workers.
The figure of 142 worker deaths in 2014/15 is 9% lower than the average for the past five years (156). The latest rate of fatal injury of 0.46 compares to the five-year average rate of 0.53. The finalised figure for 2013/14 is 136 worker fatalities, and corresponds to a rate of 0.45 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Over the latest 20-year time period there has been a downward trend in the rate of fatal injury, although more recently (since 2008/09) the trend is less clear.

What should you do about it?

The Health and Safety Executive’s website is a good resource. The HSE is the government agency charged with enforcing the law and advising business and the public on health and safety issues.

Basic guidance is available from the “Health and safety made simple” section of the HSE site.

Even an office based business providing only services needs to take care to comply with good health and safety practices.

A “Getting Started” guide for businesses starting is provided in the HSE website. 

You would be well advised to sign up for news alerts from the HSE, particularly if you are in construction, manufacturing, transport/logistics or any trade or industry involving machinery.
According to the HSE data for 2013/14:

Don’t know if your business complies? Check out our Legaleze health and safety compliance report service in our Direct services.

Read this subject in more detail

[Page updated: 20/10/2015]


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H&S at work