The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has marked its 40th anniversary with an appeal to UK businesses to make the wellbeing of their workers a top priority for 2015.
Statistics for 2013/14 have been released showing that across Great Britain there were 133 deaths at work, more than 79,500 injuries were formally reported and over 1.1 million people are thought to have been taken ill.
According to the HSE, this is a huge reduction from January 1975, when the safety watchdog was established to enforce the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – the statute that underpins all health and safety legislation. In 1974/75 a total of 651 employees alone were killed, a figure which does not include self-employed workers whose deaths were not recorded in the same way.
While this decline has been welcomed, the HSE is urging all local employers to review whether they can do more to protect their employees.
The latest figures show that workers in construction are among those most at risk, with falls from height, work on poorly maintained machinery, and failure to properly manage workplace transport considered areas of concern.
Judith Hackitt, chair of the HSE, said:
“In the forty years since HSE was formed, we’ve worked with businesses, workers and Government to make Britain a healthier and safer place to work.
“Thousands of serious injuries have been prevented and work-related deaths have reduced by 85%. HSE has helped Britain become one of the safest places to work in the world.
“But we must also recognise that there is still a big challenge to prevent the suffering which does still occur. Seeing the annual statistics always leads to mixed emotions; sympathy for those who have suffered injury themselves and for the families and workmates of those who have lost their lives; determination to improve things further as well as encouragement that we are continuing to make progress in reducing the toll of suffering.
“For the last eight years we have consistently recorded one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers among the leading industrial nations in Europe. However, in HSE’s 40th year it is right that we acknowledge the progress we’ve made and look to a future of striving to bring down these statistics even further.”
The full statistics, including comparisons to previous years, are available here.