Although the UK is one of the safest countries in the world to work in, the latest figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have shown that there are still considerable improvements that could be made.
Significantly, a reported 1.3 million people suffered a workplace illness in 2016/17 and 609,000 workplace injuries were reported.
The data was compiled from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and other sources such as the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) and specialist Physician and General Practitioner reporting via the Health and Occupation Research network (THOR).
The figures also revealed that in the past year a truly shocking 137 workers were killed at work; that’s at least 2 a week.
The new statistics also showed that in 2015 there were 2,542 deaths caused by the fatal asbestos-related disease mesothelioma, up on the previous year, with figures only expected to rise for a number of years to come.
The figures also highlights the impact work-related illness and injury has on businesses and the economy at large, with the HSE estimating the cost at £14.9 billion a year with 31.2 million working days being lost each year.
In line with the new Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences Definitive Guidelines introduced to England and Wales in 2016, although there were fewer prosecutions in 2016/17, fines increased from £38.8 million in 2015/16 to £69.9 million in 2016/17, a dramatic rise of around 80%. The average penalty was around £126,000 per case, more than double the average fine in 2015/16.
Commenting on the latest figures, Martin Temple, HSE Chair said: “We will only achieve long-term improvement by a collective approach to improve workplace standards. Poor standards lead to poor health and increased injuries, which is bad for the workforce and business.”
Emma Simcox-Oliver, Managing Director at Simcox-Oliver Solicitors, said: “As a country we should be proud of the advances we have made in improving our workplace health and safety standards. However, the work is not over and we all need to remain vigilant to ensure that work-related illness and deaths becomes a thing of the past and our workers’ safety remains the number one priority for businesses across the UK.”