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What lessons can employers learn from the HSE’s statistics for 2013/2014?

The words Health and Saftey Law in red with what you need to know in black underneath Print publication

17/02/2015

The latest statistics for 2013/14 published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), pleasingly suggest that there is a downward trend in workplace fatalities and injuries:

  • the number of fatalities falling from 148 to 133
    • Construction, agriculture and waste and recycling remain the most dangerous industries to work in with the highest number of fatalities and
  • 77,593 non-fatal injuries to employees being reported (as the reporting requirements for RIDDOR changed in October 2013 (i.e. part way through the year), a direct comparison with the previous year cannot be made)
    • The majority of these accidents were caused by slips and trips (28%), handling, lifting or carrying (24%) and being struck by moving objects (10%).

Although this indicates that the UK is generally becoming a safer place to work, UK organisations cannot afford to be complacent about health and safety.

The headline figures show in 2013/14:

  • there were still 639 prosecutions by the HSE and local authorities in England and Wales
  • there were 602 convictions and fines totalling £18 million
  • the number of working days lost due to work-related ill health or injury rose from 27 million [1] to 28.2 million days (although the average per case has fallen from 17 to 16)
  • the cost to society of workplace injuries and ill health rose from £13.8 billion to £14.2 billion
  • £6 billion of which represents financial costs such as lost productivity and healthcare and
  • the number of notices issued by the HSE and local authorities rose to 13,790 including a 15% increase in the number of enforcement notices issued by the HSE.

What can organisations do to keep their employees safe and well?

Organisations need to ensure that:

  • their health and safety policy is comprehensive and up to date and that this is reviewed regularly
  • a responsible person who has knowledge of health and safety legislation is in charge of the organisations health and safety policy
  • they have a full suite of health and safety risk assessments and that any issues identified by the assessments have been properly addressed
  • all employees are fully trained and subject to refresher training at appropriate intervals on health and safety issues and the company’s procedures and records of completed training are kept
  • The majority of the non-fatal injuries to employees last year were caused by slips and trips (28%) handling, lifting or carrying (24%) and being struck by moving objects (10%), most of which could be avoided by having the correct procedures in place and by ensuring that employees are properly trained.
  • employees are provided with appropriate protective clothing and equipment
  • where an organisation has a number of branches or offices, its health and safety policy is implemented and enforced throughout
  • regular health and safety audits are carried out to ensure that practices and procedures are being followed and to identify any new health and safety risks which arise.

However, it is not enough simply to have all of the above in place.  It is essential that organisations (including directors and senior managers) understand the importance of their health and safety obligations and take compliance with those obligations seriously.  There needs to be a culture of health and safety compliance which starts in the boardroom and feeds down to the shop floor in order to ensure that the above policies and procedures are firmly embedded within the organisation.

How can Walker Morris help?

The Regulatory and Compliance team at Walker Morris offers a complete range of health and safety services, including drafting health and safety policies, delivering training, carrying out audits and, if the worst should happen, helping to deal with the consequences of accident and any subsequent prosecutions.

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[1] the data refers to 2011/12 as no Labour Force Survey data for ill health was available for 2012/13.

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