Written by Gareth Martin, 20th July 2023
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently published the 2022/23 figures in relation to work-related fatal injuries in Great Britain that were reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). There were 135 workers killed in work –related incidents during the period and although the figures indicate a downward trend over the long-term, the current figures are similar to pre-pandemic levels and serve as yet another reminder as to why health and safety considerations must not be overlooked.
Breakdown of the figures
The construction industry once again recorded the highest number of deaths with 45 which was an increase of 16 from the previous year, although not entirely out of sync with the five-year average in the sector which stands at 37. This was followed by the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector with 21 fatalities. Manufacturing (15); transport and storage (15); wholesale, retail, motor repair, accommodation and food sectors (15) were the next highest.
Of those workers who died, 99 were aged 16 years – 59 years, with 33 aged 60+ and the ages of 3 individuals was unknown. Falls from height continue to account for the largest number of deaths with 40 workers killed. There were 29 people killed having been struck by a moving object and 20 killed by moving vehicles. The published figures which include data collated up to March 2023 also confirmed that 12 people died having been trapped by something collapsing or overturning and nine due to contact with moving machinery.
There were 68 members of the public killed in work related accidents in the same period although it should be noted that these figures exclude deaths due to work-related accidents to patients and service users in the health adult social care sectors in England.
Who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace?
It is the business’ legal responsibility to minimise the risk of not only deaths but more generally, accidents, injuries and ill-health for both employees and non-employees.
What makes a workplace safe?
The HSE provides some useful guidance about how businesses may successfully manage health and safety in the workplace but the fact is health and safety is not a “one size fits all” and companies must consider what health and safety means for their specific circumstances and take appropriate action to ensure compliance with the law.
That action should ordinarily include:
Preparing a health and safety policy – the law requires every business to have a policy in place to manage health and safety. For those businesses with five or more employees, the policy must be written down and although this is not compulsory for those with fewer than five employees, it is nevertheless sensible to do so as it could be very useful in the event of an incident and any subsequent investigation or claim against the company.
Managing risks – every employer is legally obliged to identify hazards that could cause injury or illness in the business. You must then decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously. Finally, and as a bare minimum, you must take action to eliminate the hazard or if that isn’t possible you must control the risk.
Information and training – your employees are often your number one asset, so involve them. Everyone, including contractors and self-employed people must know how to work safely and for this to happen, it is important that you as the employer provide clear instructions and information, as well as, appropriate training and supervision.
Appoint a competent person – as an employer you must appoint one or more competent person to help you meet your health and safety obligations. Whilst such individuals are not required to have any formal qualifications or training they should have the knowledge, skills and experience to recognize hazards in the business and help implement controls to protect workers and others from harm.
Record and report accidents and illness – certain workplace injuries, near-misses and work –related diseases must be reported to the HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).
A full list of all reportable injuries, diseases and occurrences can be found on the HSE website.
It is important to remember that health and safety legislation is not intended to over-burden your business and it is therefore much better to work towards compliance than face the consequences of enforcement action for failing to do so.
What should you do if there is a health and safety incident?
If you or your business do come under investigation, it is important to seek legal advice and assistance as soon as possible. The team at Olliers will help you navigate the process and ensure that everything that can be done is done to secure the best possible outcome.
Even if the HSE decides to prosecute, the team at Olliers have a wealth of experience in defending employers, employees and companies facing prosecution, so get in touch with our experts.
Our regulatory team includes Managing Director Matthew Claughton and partners, Gareth Martin, Toby Wilbraham and Zita Spencer. Each of our specialists has substantial experience in dealing with a range of regulatory investigations and prosecutions, as well as, complex criminal cases.
Contact us by telephone on 0161 834 1515, email email@example.com or complete the form below and one of our lawyers will contact you.