New figures show why Health and Safety matters

Work health & safety

Figures published recently by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that 22 people were killed at work in Scotland between April 2012 and March 2013.  This figure, which represents a rate of 0.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, was an increase from the 19 deaths recorded in 2011/12.   Both the death rate per 100,000 workers and the number of fatalities recorded last year were higher in Scotland than in England or Wales.

Gordon Dalyell, Digby Brown Partner and Scottish Executive Member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, is concerned at both the figures and forthcoming changes in the law which will set health and safety law in the UK back over a hundred years and which could mean lower standards of health and safety in workplaces. Discussing the HSE figures, Gordon said:

“The 22 fatalities recorded by the HSE in Scotland last year are 22 people who didn’t come home from work. Every single one of these is a tragedy affecting families across Scotland. The statistics starkly highlight why we shouldn’t turn the clock back on health and safety regulation. 

“Unfortunately, provisions in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act which will take effect from October 1st will do just that.  By removing statutory liability of employers for workplace accidents, health and safety law in the UK will be taken back to where it was in Victorian times.

“Health and Safety Executive statistics over the last twenty years show why robust workplace safety regulation and employer responsibility matters. In 1991/92 there were 368 fatal accidents in UK workplaces, a figure which fell to 148 across the UK in 2012/13.  Health and safety regulation saves lives and we should seek to strengthen not weaken it.”

For a full discussion of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, read this article by Gordon Dalyell, which was published in The Scotsman newspaper during the bill’s passage through parliament.

In January, Digby Brown highlighted worrying erosions in the level of health and safety protections in our workplaces.

A report published by Prof. Rory O’Neill, Professor of Occupational Health Policy Research at Stirling University highlighted a worrying decline in inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the watchdog body charged with improving safety and reducing work-related injuries and fatalities across the UK.

The study found that 37 sectors, many of which have historically higher than average accident rates, are now excluded from unannounced HSE inspections. Figures in the study suggest over half of workplace fatalities between April 2011 and October 2012 occurred in these uninspected sectors.

The full study can be read here.