The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has recently published statistics for 2012/2013 which indicates a fall in the number of fatally injured workers in the last year. In 2011/2012 the total number of fatalities was 171, an equivalent rate of 0.6 per 100,000 workers, but this fell in 2012/2013 to 148, only 0.5 per 100,000 workers.
Of the main industrial sectors, construction, agriculture, and waste and recycling continue to have the highest fatality rates. These sectors accounted for 39, 29, and 10 fatal injuries to workers, respectively. These higher figures reflect the HSE’s recent targeting of safety standards in the construction industry and increased focus on prosecution for poor safety standards.
Across Great Britain, 706 cases were prosecuted for health and safety breaches in 2012/13 (including cases where multiple offences were brought). This is an increase year on year over the last five years and supports the HSE campaigns targeted at improving worker safety.
Philippa Luscombe, partner in the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches LLP, said: "While the increase in the number of prosecutions is welcome, we feel that more still can be done to improve health and safety in the workplace in those specific sectors. We regularly see the same types of incidents, such as falls from height, as the main causes of such fatalities and incidents where basic safety procedures have not been followed.
''While the statistics published by the HSE show a welcome drop in fatally injured workers in 2012/2013 - partly due to the drive by the HSE to raise awareness and pursue prosecutions - it is still concerning that we still the same types of incidents occurring and personal injury claims arising from very basic health and safety failings.
"Hopefully, the continued effort to educate employers on worker health and safety, coupled with the threat of prosecution, will result in the further reduction of rates of fatally injured workers year on year.”