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HSE Releases Quarterly Update on Fatal Injuries


HSE Releases Quarterly Update on Fatal Injuries

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published its latest quarterly update for fatal injuries to workers and members of the public in Britain for the period 1 April 2018 to 31 December 2018.

A total of 111 workers were killed at work in Great Britain (GB) in that period, a slight increase on the same period in 2017/2018 where 106 workers were killed. It is difficult to draw anything meaningful from the slight increase at this point in the year. The number of fatalities has remained broadly level in recent years, with an average of 142 workers per annum killed at work over the five years 2014/2015-2018/2019.

Traditionally, industries such as construction, manufacturing and agriculture, forestry and fishing tend to have some of the highest level of fatalities and the quarterly figures confirm that.  The figures show the fatal injury rates in these sectors:

  • 23 fatal injuries to workers in the construction industry were recorded, a decrease compared to 31 fatal injuries in the same quarter in the previous year;
  • 27 fatal injuries to workers in agriculture, forestry and fishing were recorded, an increase on 23 in the same quarter in the previous year; and
  • 22 fatal injuries to workers in manufacturing were recorded, compared with 13 in the same quarter in the previous year.

The statistics also show that 35 members of the public were killed as a result of a work-related accident between April and December 2018, an increase compared to 25 in the same period in the previous year.

A serious injury or fatality in the workplace will most likely result in an HSE investigation with the possibility of prosecution, large fines and potentially custodial sentences for breaches of health and safety law.

The Definitive Guideline implemented in February 2016 has seen significant increases on fines imposed on organisations and individuals, with an average fine of £147,000 per case resulting in conviction. Fines imposed in 2017/2018 totaled £72.6 million compared to under £20 million in 2014/2015. 

Ultimately, any injury or fatality in the workplace, be it to workers or to members of the public, is a tragedy and impacts on all those involved. The industries mentioned above all carry inherent risks and the statistics suggest that an increased awareness of the risks is still necessary. It is essential that employers put in place risk assessments and safe systems of work and ensures that these are communicated effectively, understood and followed.

I have often been told by clients that “this is the way, we’ve always done it because it’s quicker and the boss knows that we do it this way”. That quicker method isn’t always safe, isn’t likely to be properly risk assessed and can often result in serious or sometimes fatal injuries. Cutting corners isn’t worth the risk. Employers need to have in place effective systems, training and supervision to work towards reducing fatalities and ensuring workers can go home to their families and loved ones at the end of the day.

If you have lost a loved one as a result of an accident at work, contact Caroline Kelly on 01382 346282 or ckelly@thorntons-law.co.uk, contact our specialist injury lawyers on 0800 731 8434 or click here for more information.

Posted by Caroline Kelly

Partner & Solicitor Advocate

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