Latest HSE injury figures paint a bleak picture of occupational health and
safety in the UK
Workplace deaths rose by 34 per cent in the past year – bringing industrial
accidents to the highest level for several years.
Provisional statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show fatal
injuries in 2000/2001 increased to 295 – up 75 on the previous year.
And the rate of fatal injury to workers is expected to rise substantially
this year, bucking the downward trend seen in the 1990s, said the HSE. It is
estimated to increase to 1.1 per 1 million workers – up from 0.8 the year
before – the highest level seen since the mid-1990s.
The fatal injury rate for staff and the self-employed is also expected to
have increased when final figures are published next month.
Falls from a height, being struck by a moving vehicle or moving or falling
objects continue to be the most common causes of fatal injury, accounting for
25, 22 and 18 per cent respectively of fatal injuries to workers.
The number of falls from a height rose from 68 in 1999/2000 to 73 in
2000/01, although this figure is still lower than two years ago.
Deaths caused by being struck by a moving vehicle increased from 34 to 64,
and are at the highest level since 1991/92.
But the rate for non-fatal major injuries is expected to be 110.3 per
100,000 – 5 per cent lower than the previous year, continuing the downward
The most common causes of non-fatal major injuries continue to be slipping,
tripping and falling from a height.
The over-three-day injury rate is also expected to show a slight fall, down
2 per cent on 1999/2000.
Injuries sustained while handling, lifting or carrying or due to slipping
and tripping remain the most common kind of over-three-day injuries.
TUC general secretary John Monks said employers should be compelled to
investigate all significant workplace accidents, including road traffic
accidents and bullying.
"The law must not be a bureaucratic paper chase, or an exercise in
shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted," he said.
How the injuries break down
Fatal injury rates in the construction sector are the highest for 10 years,
at 6 per 100,000 – on average two deaths every week – and 28 per cent higher
than in 1999/2000
Rates in agriculture and extraction and the utility industries are also
expected to increase
In manufacturing, the fatal injury rate is expected to be 1.2 per 100,000
compared with 1 per 100,000 in 1999/2000 – lower than for most of the 1990s
Fatal injuries have risen in the services sector, to 0.4 per 100,000, after
dropping through most of the 1990s
The number of fatal injuries to members of the public is expected to
increase to 447 from 436, with 96 per cent occurring in the service sector and
331 reported from the railway industry
The provisional number of dangerous occurrences reported to the HSE was
10,373 – a fall of 0.4 per cent