30 July, 2019
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released its annual figures for work-related fatal injuries for 2018/19. According to the statistics, 147 workers were fatally injured whilst at work between April 2018 and March 2019. Whilst the HSE reports that there has been a long-term reduction in the number of fatalities since 1981, 2018/19 saw an increase of six workplace fatalities from the previous year. The construction sector, together with agriculture, forestry and fishing had the largest share of fatal injuries to workers.
The HSE statistics also revealed that the three most common causes of fatal injuries continues to be workers falling from height (40), being struck by a moving vehicle (30) and being struck by a moving object (16), accounting for nearly 60 per cent of fatal injuries in 2018/19. In addition, there were also 92 members of the public fatally injured in incidents connected to work in 2018/2019.
Sadly, the workplace fatality figures remain troublingly high. We understand a fuller assessment of work-related ill health and injuries will be provided as part of the annual Health and Safety Statistics, which will be released on 30 October 2019. We will of course report further once those figures are released.
A production line worker suffered life-changing injuries when she was dragged into a rotating drive shaft, resulting in the loss of her full scalp, ears and one of her thumbs. As a result of the incident, she also suffered severe physical and mental trauma.
The HSE found the company had failed to adequately guard the production line, allowing workers to access dangerous parts of machinery. Operatives were accessing moving parts of the machinery whilst in operation and the Production Director was aware of this. On a return visit, the HSE found dangerous parts of the machinery were still accessible to workers. A Prohibition Notice and an Improvement Notice were served to address the risks.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £466,666 and ordered to pay costs of £7,475.90 and a victim surcharge of £170. The employer pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £10,800, ordered to pay £43,241 in costs and £170 victim surcharge.
A worker received horrific and life changing injuries in an accident, which could so easily have been avoided. Employers responsible for moving machinery must consider what risks may occur and how these can be managed. A safe system of work should also be produced for using and maintaining machinery.
The HSE is asking local authorities (LAs) to make a statement of commitment (SoC) to improve health and safety standards in the sectors they regulate, which includes retail, consumer services, entertainment and warehousing/supply.
According to the figures in the SoC, failures in the management of health and safety in LA enforced business sectors results in around 10 deaths, 5000 major injuries and over 100,000 new cases of ill health a year. Many of those harmed are members of the public/children, or vulnerable workers not provided with reasonable workplace protection.
The SoC has therefore been developed by the HSE and LA representative bodies. The SoC sets out a shared vision for an ongoing LA/HSE co-regulatory partnership with the intention of achieving:
Sustainable arrangements for the enforcement of work related health and safety.
Established joint working arrangements resulting in effective engagement, consultation and communication.
Consistency of high quality regulation across HSE and LA enforced businesses.
It is likely that the SoC will result in an increase in investigation visits and a rise in enforcement notices in LA regulated sectors.
It is also noted on the HSE website that the HSE will be working with LAs to develop further supporting materials which will be made available in due course. In the meantime, a copy of the SoC can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/lau/statement.htm