Private Business Intermediaries

Society paying the price for workplace dangers

18/11/2014 | By Freedom Health Insurance
New figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that Britain lost an estimated 28.2 million working days in 2013/14 due to work-related ill health or injury. They estimate that the economic cost to society in Britain is around £14.2 billion (2012/13 figures based on 2012 prices). (1)
According to the HSE figures, the manufacturing industry continues to be one of the highest risk sectors with 3,159 major/specified injuries, followed by the construction industry with 1,900.
Judith Hackitt, the chair of HSE, said: “The health numbers also demonstrate the scale of harm being done to people’s health while at work, too often leading to premature death.”
In terms of fatal diseases, the HSE’s annual report notes that around 13,000 deaths each year from occupational lung disease and cancer are estimated to have been caused by previous exposure at work, particularly to chemicals and dust, the most prevalent being past exposure to asbestos. (2)
The UK suffers considerably fewer fatal injuries at work than many of its European neighbours though.  Recently published data from the Health and Safety Executive shows that the UK has a standardised incident rate (per 100,000 workers) of fatal injury at work of just 0.74, compared to 2.74 in France, 0.94 in Germany, 1.5 in Italy and 2.16 in Spain. (3)
What’s more, the HSE data shows that 97% of UK workplaces surveyed undertake regular health and safety checks. This compares to 95% in Spain, 78% in Germany and only 65% in France.  Only Italy performs better than the UK at 99%.
Through its investigation and enforcement activities, Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, the HSE, prosecuted 674 cases for health and safety breaches in 2013/14, leading to 636 convictions representing a conviction rate of 94% and total fines received of £18m. (2)
Behind these numbers though, is the personal tragedy that can affect family life so profoundly; the person who went out to work and came home with a life-changing injury, or worse still, the person who never came home at all.
Judith Hackitt concludes: “We all need to commit to focusing on what really matters – ensuring more people return from work every day and enjoy long and healthy working lives.” (1)
If you have any concerns about health and safety at work, visit the HSE website.  

1. Health and Safety Executive, 2014. Injury and ill-health statistics highlight workplace dangers, October 29. Available here
2. Health and Safety Executive, 2014. Health and Safety Statistics - Annual Report for Great Britain 2013/14 [PDF]. Available here.
3. Health and Safety Executive, 2014. European Comparisons - Summary of UK Performance [PDF]. Available here