Accidents at work are still a problem: HSE report highlights

Author: Jane Penman

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released the latest figures showing the full scale of accidents in the workplace.

The Health and Safety at Work Summary Statistics for Great Britain 2018 revealed that 1.4 million people were suffering from work-related health problems, while around 555,000 sustained non-fatal injuries. Combined, this resulted in 30.7 million working days being lost in 2017/2018.

595,000 people experienced work related stress, depression or anxiety and despite Britain being one of the safest places to work, 144 people were involved in fatal accidents.

Fines totalling £72.6 million were imposed on 493 cases that were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive or passed to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in Scotland. Details of the report follows new legislation that came into force on the 1st November which has the power to jail employers who are proved to be responsible for employee workplace deaths (see our news article dated 24/09/18).

As has been the case in the past, agriculture and construction are the highest risk areas for injury. Overall, slips, trips and falls accounted for the majority of injuries (31%) with handling, lifting and carrying coming in at 21%. Being struck by an object made up 10% of injuries while falls from height was recorded at 8%. Injuries sustained as a result of violence in the workplace accounted for 7%.

In 2016/2017, workplace injuries cost Britain £5.2 billion, while new cases of work-related ill health cost £9.7 billion.

Speaking of the report’s findings, Jane Penman, partner in Russell & Russell’s personal injury department said: “Although the UK has an enviable track record in health and safety it’s clear there’s still much to be done. All too often, we see lots of people who have suffered an accident at work due to employers trying to cut corners or save money.

“Employers have a responsibility to keep their workforce safe, so they need to ensure their safety protocols leave nothing to chance. If they don’t, they can expect to see not only monetary fines, but also prison sentences imposed should they be found to have been negligent.”

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