November 19, 2014

Workplace injuries and ill health ‘cost UK £14bn’

Britain continues to be one of the safest places to work in Europe but too many workers are still being injured or made ill by work, the Health and Safety Executive has warned.

Injury and ill health statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 29 October revealed that an estimated 28.2 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health or injury in 2013/14, with construction remaining one of the sectors experiencing the highest number of major injuries.

The HSE estimated the cost from injuries and new cases of ill health due to current working conditions is an estimated £14.2 billion. The statistics showed there were: 

  • 133 fatal injuries in 2013-14, down from 150 the previous year;
  • 77,593 other injuries reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR), the equivalent of 304.6 injuries per 100,000 employees; and
  • an estimated two million people in 2013/14 suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by current or past work. 

HSE chair Judith Hackitt said: “Britain has one of the best health and safety systems in the world, but that is cold comfort to those who have suffered loss or suffering that is so easily avoided with sensible and proportionate risk management.

“We all need to commit to focussing on what really matters – ensuring more people return home from work every day and enjoy long and healthy working lives.” 

Construction remained one of the sectors in which employees were most likely to be injured (1,900 major/specified injuries). Others included agriculture (292 major/specified injuries), manufacturing (3,159) and waste and recycling (486).

All employers are legally required to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees and any other people who might be affected by their activities, by assessing risks of injury or damage to health that could occur in the workplace and taking steps to manage and control these.

Palmers provides expert legal support to employers on meeting their compliance responsibilities, with services including advice on health and safety policies and carrying out general workplace risk assessments and health and safety audits.

For more information, please contact Lara Murray

Even with the most robust risk management and safeguards in place, accidents and incidents can occur in the workplace. As a result, the employer and their business may face investigation by the HSE, the police or local authorities with the potential for severe consequences in the criminal courts should they be found liable.

For advice and representation on issues including enforcement action, investigations and prosecutions, please contact Jeremy Sirrell.