The recently published Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Statistics 2013-14 report revealed that the number of working days lost to work-related illness and injuries stands at 28.2 million per year with estimated costs of more than £14 billion.
These figures are extremely worrying and show that the UK Government needs to do far more to ensure that workplaces are made safer.
Whilst it is pleasing to note that fatal workplace accidents have reduced from 150 to 133 during the last year there are still 77,593 other injuries reported. Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the report however is the fact that there is clear evidence that most injuries sustained in the workplace go unreported.
In addition to the number of people injured in work accidents, the report also confirms that around 2 million people suffered illnesses in 2013/14 that they believe was caused or made worse by their work.
The sad reality is that a significant number of work-related injuries and illnesses are easily avoidable if employers simply adopt sensible and proportionate risk management procedures.
Failure to implement correct Health and Safety practices at work can inevitably lead to tragedy as these figures so grimly illustrate in regard to the number of times workers fail to return home from their jobs or suffer life-changing injuries which can have a devastating effect on entire families.
Those involved in Health and Safety issues particularly Lawyers who represent the people unfortunate enough to suffer from work accident injuries, note that the HSE does an excellent job.
However, the UK Government’s decision to reduce the number of HSE Inspections will clearly allow rogue firms and managers to get away with reduced levels of health and safety in workplaces, exposing their workers to the risk of injury, illness or death.
We call upon the Government to prioritise workers’ wellbeing to ensure that rogue businesses are prosecuted. Prosecutions not only act as a sanction but also as a deterrent to others. Employees up and down the country are being exploited and lives continue to be put at risk in all areas of the economy, particularly manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and waste and recycling.
Matthew Tomlinson is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers specialising in work accident compensation.
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