The figures show a slight fall across industries such as construction, agriculture, mining and recycling, but 31 people lost their live in manufacturing last year opposed to the 29 deaths average of the previous five.
In total, 173 workers died in Britain between April 2011 and March 2012, with a further 90 members of the public killed in accidents relating to work (not including railways-related incidents). Upon hearing the report’s findings, the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) was “disappointed” that the drop was so slight:
“It is disappointing that workplace accident deaths have not fallen further. Work-related deaths shatter families and they also have massive consequences for businesses, communities and society as a whole. The figures for 2011/12 prove that we must remain focused on prevention. An important part of this involves helping employers, particularly smaller firms, get a handle on effective health and safety management, which we know can be a subject that is widely misinterpreted,” said RoSPA’s Occupational Safety Advisor, Roger Bibbings.
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“It must also be remembered that workplace accidents represent just a small part of the overall burden of work-related deaths. Work-related road accidents, for example, are not included in the HSE figures and are estimated to be much higher in number than accidents in fixed workplaces. There is also the largely unseen burden of harm due to work-related health damage.
“Indeed, taking not just cancer but other occupationally related conditions such as COPD (lung disease), heart disease and so on, it is clear that more workers are dying early as a result of past failure to control harmful exposures than are being killed in accidents. Of course, most of these deaths occur after work has ceased but, in many cases, people are losing up to 20 years of life expectancy.”
Manufacturing and engineering recruitment specialist, JAM Recruitment has suggested that the rise can be attributed to health and safety budgets being slashed, stating that almost half of the companies it spoke to said that health and safety programmes were the first to go during the recession.
Director of Policy and Communications at the British Safety Council, Neal Stone’s comments appear to reinforce the link between recent economic troubles and a rise in work-related accidents:
“While the number of deaths in Britain resulting from workplace injury has halved over the last 20 years, it is a serious concern that the reduction in both the number and incidence of deaths has stalled over the last two years.”