The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently released the number of fatal injuries related to workplace accidents in Great Britain from 1st April 2016 – 31st March 2017. The figure was 137. Whilst recent years have seen a downward trend in the number of workplace fatalities in the UK, this figure shows that there is still significant improvement to be made in serious accident reduction. It must also be remembered that this figure does not include fatal accidents involving workers travelling in public highways or by air or sea, or workplace accidents which result in members of the public being fatally injured.

A substantial number of the fatal accidents reported to HSE were related to workers being struck by moving vehicles (31), falls from height (25) and being struck by a moving object (20). The industries with the highest number of fatal injuries reported were construction (30) and agriculture (27).

The costs of poor health and safety standards

Whilst health and safety is often viewed as a hindrance to carrying out normal work or too costly, HSE estimations are that workplace injury costs the UK around £4.8 billion and workplace ill-health around

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£9.3 billion per year, equating to about £1.5 million per fatal injury and £7,400 per non-fatal injury (source: HSE Cost to Britain Model). These figures cannot fully reflect the human cost of injury and ill-health such as chronic pain and the impact on relationships.

It is therefore reasonable to conclude that a small amount of time, effort and other resources spent on improving health and safety standards will have significant benefits. There are many ways to do improve health and safety performance, however it is generally recognised that strong leadership forms the basis for an effective health and safety management system, supporting everything from planning for health and safety to learning lessons.

Getting it right

For those responsible for health and safety, a qualification such as IOSH Managing Safely or NEBOSH National General Certificate can provide an understanding of the principles of good health and safety management, enabling them to contribute to or even drive the improvement of standards in their own workplace. Learn more about our health and safety training here