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IOSH: Promoting safety and health key after rise in British work-related deaths

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health

4 min read Partner content

IOSH has reaffirmed its commitment towards shaping a safe, healthy and sustainable world of work after a rise in workplace deaths in Britain.

Provisional data released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed that 142 workers were fatally injured between April 2014 and March 2015, compared with 136 people in 2013-14.

The figure, however, is lower than the average over the past five years. The long-term trend also shows that the rate of work-related deaths in Britain has more than halved over the last 20 years.

Shelley Frost, Executive Director – Policy at IOSH, said: “It is disappointing that the overall number of work-related deaths has risen in the past 12 months.

“Every death at work is an avoidable tragedy and IOSH’s priority to inform and raise awareness on OSH issues remains relevant to improve safety and health standards across industries.

“The wave of positive change towards better safety, health and wellbeing at work is growing.  IOSH has noticed an increasing number of businesses are seeing how embracing safety and health can bring genuine returns, not just for their workers but also in terms of their overall performance and reputation. 

“We hope that this positive change brings positive results in the future. In the meantime, we will continue to shape our activities and focus to deliver a world of work which is safe, healthy and sustainable wherever we can.”

Over 166,000 workers successfully completed safety training through IOSH in 2014-15.

The Institution also commissioned a range of projects to establish evidence for safety and health policies and practice, and sponsored other organisations carrying out research in important issues.

The last 12 months has in addition heralded the launch of IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign to raise awareness of occupational cancers.

Five of the most common causes of work-related cancer registrations and deaths are being highlighted through the campaign, including asbestos exposure.

The latest HSE statistics revealed that 2,538 people died in Britain in 2013 due to mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer. This was down marginally from 2,548 in 2012.

Shelley said: “The fact that over 2,500 people died from mesothelioma following past exposure to asbestos reiterates the importance that employers, regulators, safety practitioners and workers take action to avoid people being exposed to carcinogens at work.

“It is likely that many of these deaths were as a result of being exposed to asbestos in the workplace years – if not decades – earlier. Eradicating the risk now will prevent the future generation suffering a similar fate.”

There has also been a focus on priority industries including construction and agriculture to help raise OSH standards. The IOSH Rural Industries Group has reiterated its commitment to promoting agricultural safety after the provisional HSE data showed that 33 workers were killed in the sector in 2014-15, an increase from 27 in 2013-14.

The rate of fatal injuries (9.12 per 100,000 workers) was also higher than any other industry.

The Group is publicising and sharing examples of best practice and guidance via its microsite on the IOSH website this week in support of the third annual Farm Safety Week across the UK and Ireland.

This year’s initiative will cover five main themes – falls, machinery, transport, cattle and crush injuries and child safety.

Alan Plom, vice-chair of the IOSH Rural Industries Group, said: “Farming remains the most dangerous industry in Britain with the highest rate of fatal injuries.

“As farming is a 24/7 industry we will be extending our support of Farm Safety Week into the weekend. We will be updating on the No Time to Lose campaign in relation to farming and other rural industries, and publishing other useful information to help reduce the toll of injuries and ill health.”

Figures released by the Health Safety Authority (HSA) have also revealed that 56 people were killed in work-related accidents in Ireland in 2014 – up from 47 in 2013.

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