Health and safety law has come a long way in the UK. The passing of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (the Act) was a watershed moment when it came to improving the safety of British employees. Since its inception, accusations of the UK being a ‘nanny state’ when it comes to health and safety laws have been made by some Conservative MPs, who have even called for the abolition of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). But this short-sighted view fails to value the enormous improvement to the safety of British workplaces since the Act’s inception.
Despite the improvements bought about by the Act however, too many British people are still being killed or seriously injured at work. But which professions are the most dangerous? And what steps are being taken to improve the safety in each so workers do not risk receiving a personal injury?
In the year 2015/16, 144 employees lost their lives at work. Using the latest HSE statistics, we look at the what industries are the most dangerous in the UK
Construction has always been one of the riskiest professions and we have dealt with many compensation claims resulting from negligent workplace safety practices which have led to death or injury in this sector.
In 2015/16, 28 employees failed to return home at the end of their work day. Fatal accidents included:
- falling from a height
- being hit by a moving vehicle
- being crushed
Safety culture in the construction industry is improving, with the HSE reporting that 95% of businesses carry out regular risk assessment practices (although the quality of these assessments is not recorded). However, 65,000 construction workers suffered an injury in 2015/16 (this includes self-employed workers) and in a quarter of these cases, the victim was required to take more than a week off work, severely affecting their income.
There were 19 deaths in the manufacturing sector in 2015/16. Causes included:
- being struck by a moving vehicle
- coming into contact with machinery
- exposure to harmful substances and fire
With a similar magnitude of injuries as construction, the manufacturing sector reported that around 70,000 if its sustained an injury over the twelve-month period; a quarter of these resulting in the victim also requiring seven or more days’ absence from work.
Most of the deaths were entirely preventable. For example, a 48-year-old man was crushed to death by an overturning milling machine in 2015. It was revealed in court that Parker Hannifin Manufacturing Ltd had not ensured that workers who were tasked with lifting and moving the machine were sufficiently trained and experienced for carrying out such a potentially dangerous activity. The organisation was subsequently fined £1 million for health and safety breaches.
A total of 11 employees died in the farming section in 2015/16. A further 20 self-employed people lost their lives.
Fatalities were caused by:
- being crushed
- being struck by a moving vehicle
The Farm Safety Foundation have made efforts to further improve safety, regularly providing training sessionsto the sector on the latest industry standards. It also holds an annual Farm Safety week to promotes a safety culture within the industry.
Despite these initiatives, 14,000 agricultural workers suffered injuries last year and many of these could have been prevented had adequate health and safety measures been put in place.
For instance, in August last year, a 22-year-old farm worker was killed when he became crushed between two vehicles. His employer, Lincoln Proteins Limited was fined £66,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,286 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of Health and Safety at Work Act.
The HSE inspector in charge of the investigation was heavily critical of the defendant, stating:
“All too often within the farming community workers are injured in incidents involving farm machinery and, as in this tragic incident, killed. There were a number of opportunities to prevent the loss of this young life. Had a risk assessment been performed, along with suitable training, the necessity of carrying out the well-known industry ‘safe stop’ procedure would have been identified. Workers should have been given instructions about what to do if a vehicle became stuck and there should have been arrangements in place for getting help if needed.”
Although the number of workplace deaths and injuries have significantly reduced since the Act was introduced in 1974, there are still too many workers and their families facing a catastrophic life changes following serious injury or death occurring on the job.
If health and safety laws have been breached and/or your employer has been negligent, resulting in you suffering an injury at work, you can claim compensation. Holding negligent organisations financially accountable for the injuries they cause also forces them to take health and safety practices and procedures more seriously, further improving the workplace for everyone.
At Russell Worth Solicitors we specialise in personal injury claims. If you have been injured and would like a free claim assessment so that you can discover your rights, please call us now on 0800 028 2060 or complete our online Free QuickClaim Enquiry.