The devastating impact of work-related deaths should not be under-estimated - British Safety Council

Posted On: 
1st November 2018

There is no doubting that some positive consequences of de-regulation for example have been well received, however it is worrying to note the increase in work-related deaths, says BSC.

The British Safety Council is concerned to note that the latest figures published by the HSE of 144 people killed in workplace accidents across all sectors in 2017-18, confirms an increase in such events for the first time in many years.

Can this really be attributed to (as the HSE have cautioned) “recognised annual fluctuations” or is this actually indicative of a more worrying culmination of wider causal societal factors?

Continual improvements in occupational health and safety management practice over many years within the UK, supported by a robust legislative framework implemented and monitored by suitably resourced regulatory bodies, undoubtedly were primary factors in a consistent downward trend in respect of workplace fatalities. The improved recognition among the more progressive organisations of the importance of good health and safety management and the benefits that were subsequently achieved, have rightly become an accepted part of sound business practice across all sectors.

However, the last five years have seen this downward trend in workplace fatalities somewhat plateau and now actually increase.

During this period, we have seen a de-regulation programme, the introduction of a somewhat controversial fee for intervention scheme, state funding of the HSE reduced by almost 50%, austerity programmes affecting public service resources (emergency services included) and now the uncertainty presented by Brexit.

It may be considered somewhat simplistic to conclude a direct correlation between the aforementioned factors and the impact upon workplace fatality (and ill-health) rates, and there is no doubting that some positive consequences of de-regulation for example have been well received, however it is worrying to note the increase in work-related deaths and the devastating impact such incidents have on close family, friends and colleagues should not be under-estimated.