The annual figures for 2016/17 on the UK’s health and safety record have been published by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), and although the country still ranks as one of the best in the world for its health and safety performance, officials have stressed that more still needs to be achieved.
According to the latest statistics from the HSE, there were 609,000 workplace injuries in the UK in 2016/17, and 1.3 million people were suffering from work-related ill health during the same period.
In addition, 137 people were killed in workplace accidents during the year, highlighting the importance of carrying out all the relevant safety procedures, and of having robust risk assessments to understand risks and emergency response plans in place to deal with any incidents.
Meanwhile, the main cause of non-fatal workplace injuries was identified as slips, trips and falls on the same level, accounting for 29 per cent of accidents recorded. Lifting or handling was responsible for 22 per cent of injuries, and being struck by an object accounted for ten per cent.
Falls from height and an act of violence were each behind seven per cent of accidents in the workplace.
The report also highlighted the cost of workplace injuries and ill health to the British economy, noting that the annual cost of such incidents and illnesses is £14.9 billion.
It’s estimated that 5.5 million working days were lost last year as a result of injuries, while a further 25.7 million working days were lost due to people suffering from work-related ill health.
HSE Chair Martin Temple, commented: “These latest figures should act as a spur to reduce the impact of ill-health and injury on Britain’s workforce and businesses and we cannot rest on our reputation.”
Construction and transport and storage were just two of the industries highlighted as having statistically significantly higher injury rates among their workers than the all-industry average. Agriculture, forestry and fishing had the highest injury rate of all the industries surveyed.
Although the HSE statistics show that the UK is considerably better than many of its European counterparts when it comes to the rate of fatal injuries at work, it is not out-performing in the same way when it comes to non-fatal injuries.
Earlier this month, the HSE called on the construction industry to make health and safety a top priority, noting that placing the focus on well-known risks such as falls from height, the control of harmful dusts and materials handling, among other things, is the best way to reduce the number of fatal accidents in the sector.
The HSE also asserted that claiming that certain risks - such as exposure to harmful dusts - can’t be managed is a myth. The organisation pointed out that there are a variety of steps firms can take to reduce the risk of exposure for their employees, ensuring their health and safety in the process.
According to the new statistics, there are an estimated 12,000 deaths from lung disease in the UK each year that can be linked back to past exposures at work.