Is enough being done to keep employees safe?
The Health and Safety Executive report that 137 people were killed at their place of work in 2016/2017. In Scotland alone, there were 19 fatal accidents in 2016/2017, compared to 15 the previous year.
The provisional figures for the first 6 months of 2017/2018 show that already 78 people have been killed at work in the UK.
Statistics highlight that the most dangerous industries to work in are construction, closely followed by agriculture which isn’t very surprising considering the nature of their jobs and how active they are. The most common type of accidents were falling from a height or being struck by a moving vehicle or another moving object.
There are specific health and safety regulations in place to protect people at work such as The Work at Height Regulations 2005; The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and others.
However, we often see instances where employees like Daniel Campbell have been seriously injured because their employer failed to properly implement these safe working practices.
It is estimated that about 13,000 deaths every year are linked to past exposure at work, primarily to chemicals or dust. Some 1.3 million workers were suffering from work-related ill health in 2016/2017, which include musculoskeletal disorders, stress, anxiety and depression, noise induced hearing loss, hand and arm vibration, as well as occupational lung disease.
The Health and Safety Executive have calculated that there has been a decline in fatal injuries since 1987. Although this is a positive sign, even one person who dies because of their work is one too many and employers need to be held accountable in order for health and safety at work to improve.
In 2016/2017, 554 employers were prosecuted or referred to COPFS in the UK by Health and Safety Executive, where conviction was achieved. £69.9 millions of fines were given out to businesses across the UK following prosecution or a referral to COPFS.
One of these businesses was energy giant ConocoPhillips (UK) Ltd who lost their appeal against the staggering £3 million fine resulting from their health and safety breaches in North Sea. 603 kilograms of gas spilled uncontrolled into the turbine hall at a dangerous proximity to the 66 people working on the platform at the time. The company was also ordered to pay £159,000 towards the costs of the prosecution.
This is the first full year where new guidelines about the fines are being used which should result in larger organisations convicted of health and safety offenses paying the largest fines.
Hopefully, this will send out a warning to other employers who are lapse when it comes to implementing health and safety at work and will reduce the numbers of workers injured by simply going to work.