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Latest UK workplace health and safety stats show several improving trends

14 December 2015

The latest HSE workplace health and safety statistics for the UK show that 142 workers were killed at work in 2014/15, slightly higher than the figure for the previous year, but down on the three previous years. 76,000 other injuries to employees were reported under RIDDOR, a rate of 293 per 100,000 employees, and  27.3 million days were lost due to work-related ill health or injury.

Fatal injuries to workers
¦ There were 142 workers fatally injured in 2014/15 (provisional), equivalent to a rate of fatal injury of 0.46 per 100,000 workers.
¦ The rate for 2014/15 compares to an average rate of 0.53 for the previous five years.
¦ Over the latest 20-year time period there has been a downward trend in the rate of fatal injury, although more recently (since 2008/09) the trend is less clear.
¦ Of the main industrial sectors, construction, agriculture and waste have the highest rates. These sectors accounted for 35, 33, and five fatal injuries to workers, respectively.
¦ The number of fatal injuries to workers was 175 in 2010/11, 171 in 2011/12, 150 in 2012/13, 136 in 2013/14 and 142 in 2014/15. Over the five years, the rate per 100,000 workers fell from 0.6 to 0.46.

Ill health

¦ 1.2 million people who worked during the last year were suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their work, of which 0.5 million were new conditions that started during the year.
¦ A further 0.8 million former workers (who last worked over 12 months ago) were suffering from an illness which was caused or made worse by their past work.
¦ 2,538 people died from mesothelioma in 2013 and thousands more from other work-related cancers and diseases such as COPD.

Injuries

¦ 76,000 injuries to employees were reported under RIDDOR, a rate of 293 per 100,000 employees.
¦ 611,000 injuries occurred at work according to the Labour Force Survey, of which 152,000 led to over-7-days absence, with rates of 2,030 and 500 per 100,000 workers respectively.

Fatal diseases
¦ Around 13,000 deaths each year from work-related lung disease and cancer are estimated to be attributed to past exposure, primarily to chemicals and dust at work.
¦ This figure includes diseases for which it is possible either to count individual deaths directly, or where there is sufficient data to produce statistical estimates.
¦ Most of these diseases take many years to develop and so deaths occurring now are largely a result of past workplace conditions.
¦ Most of these deaths were work-related cancers or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
¦ Current estimates (based on 2005 data) suggest there are at least 8,000 work-related cancer deaths each year in Great Britain.
¦ More than half of these cancer deaths were caused by past exposures to asbestos (either mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer).
¦ The next four biggest categories of work-related cancer were lung cancer due to silica, diesel engine exhaust and mineral oils, and breast cancer due to shift work.
¦ In 2013 there were 2,538 deaths due to mesothelioma (a cancer of the lung lining) caused by past exposure to asbestos.
¦ The latest projections suggest there will be around 2,500 deaths per year for the rest of this current decade before annual numbers begin to decline.
¦ There were 2,215 new cases of mesothelioma assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) in 2014 compared with 2,145 in 2013.
¦ Since the late 1990s, annual IIDB cases have tended to increase more rapidly than annual deaths, reflecting efforts to increase the proportion who claim over this period.
¦ The annual number of lung cancer deaths caused by asbestos is likely to be similar to the number of mesotheliomas.
¦ In 2013 there were 217 deaths where asbestosis was recorded as the underlying cause.
¦ There were 170 other pneumoconiosis deaths, mostly due to coal dust with a smaller number due to silica

European Comparisons
Health and safety systems differ across Europe in recording, reporting and enforcement; however, some data is available allowing for a comparison of UK performance on health and safety measures and outcomes against other large economies and the EU in general.
Overall, UK performance is better than many other European countries in key outcome areas, and in health and safety management.
¦ In 2012, the standardised rate of fatal injuries in the UK was amongst the lowest of those published by Eurostat. The UK performs consistently well compared to other large economies such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland, as well as compared to the EU average.
¦ Non-fatal injuries in the UK were at a similar level to other large economies in 2013, while rates of work-related ill health resulting in sick leave were lower than most other EU countries.
¦ The UK is one of the better performing EU countries in terms of percentage

Economic costs to Britain

Workplace injuries and ill health impose both financial costs (for example, in terms of lost production) and human costs (in terms of the impact on an individual’s quality of life and for fatal injuries, loss of life).
The total economic cost of workplace injuries and ill health includes both the financial costs incurred and a valuation of the human costs.
¦ In 2013/14, injuries and new cases of ill health in workers resulting largely from current working conditions* cost society an estimated £14.3 billion; £9.4 billion from illness, £4.9 billion from injury.
¦ The estimated cost has generally fallen over the last 10 years, but shows signs of levelling off more recently. This reduction is driven by falls in injury costs, with illness costs showing no overall trend.
¦ The majority of costs fall on individuals (57%), while employers and government/taxpayers each bear a similar proportion (19% and 24% respectively).

Working days lost
¦ 27.3 million days were lost due to work-related ill health or injury (15 days per case).
¦ 23.3 million days were lost due to work-related ill health and 4.1 million due to workplace injury.
¦ The total number of working days lost has generally followed a downward trend since 2000-02, but shows signs of levelling off in recent years.
¦ The estimated number of working days lost has fallen from 39.5 million in 2000-02 to 27.3 million in 2014/15.
¦ In 2014/15, 23.3 million days were lost due to work-related ill health and 4.1 million due to workplace injuries.
¦ On average, each person suffering took around 15 days off work, 19 days for ill health cases and 6.7 for injuries.
¦ Stress, depression or anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for the majority of days lost due to work-related ill health, 9.9 and 9.5 million days respectively.
¦ The average days lost per case for stress, depression or anxiety (23 days) was higher than for musculoskeletal disorders (17 days).

Cases instituted by HSE, local authorities and, in Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service

¦ Across Great Britain, 728 cases were prosecuted for health and safety breaches in 2014/15p (including cases where multiple offences were brought).
¦ These cases led to 682 convictions for at least one offence, a conviction rate of 94%, and total fines received of £19m.
¦ Of these 728 cases:
• HSE prosecuted 586 cases in England and Wales, an increase of 2% from the previous year, and secured 544 convictions (93%).
• Local authorities prosecuted 70 cases in England and Wales, a decrease of 20% from the previous year, and secured 68 convictions (97%).
• The Procurator Fiscal heard 72 cases in Scotland, a rise of 49% on the previous year, and secured 70 convictions (97%)




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