The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which is Britain’s national regulator for health and safety matters at work, have in November 2017 released their annual statistics. The headlines reveal that a whopping 1.3 million workers were suffering from work-related ill health in 2016/17 and an astonishing 609,000 workplace injuries occurred in the same period.
The HSE estimate that the cost to Britain is nearly £15 billion a year, with 31.2 million working days lost as a result of ill health and accidents at work.
The HSE reveal the following shocking statistics:
- There were 12,000 lung-disease deaths caused by workplace exposure
- There were 70,116 other injuries reported by employers to the HSE
- There were 137 fatal injuries at work
- There were 554 cases of prosecutions by the HSE which generated fines of nearly £70 million.
Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders
The statistics in relation to musculoskeletal disorders caused by work reveal that around 507,000 workers were suffering from this disorder in 2016/17, causing 8.9 million lost working days in the same period. The highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders came in the construction sector, closely followed by the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector, and then the transportation and storage sectors.
Generally, there has been a downward trend of working days lost per worker caused by musculoskeletal disorders at work. Manual handling is the main cause of work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
Occupational Lung Disease
There were an estimated 12,000 lung-disease deaths in 2016/17 linked to exposure at work in the past, with 2542 mesothelioma deaths in 2015. The statistics also show that there were an estimated 18,000 new cases of breathing or lung problems which were caused or made worse by work over the last three years. In terms of occupational asthma, the most common causal agents which were reported by chest physicians during the period 2012 to 2016 came from isocyanates, then flower/grain, then cleaning products, then wood dust, then enzymes.
According to 2014 statistics, the UK has the lowest level of fatal accidents at work in the EU. The second lowest was Germany, followed by Italy and Poland. In addition, the UK was also the lowest for self-reported, work-related health problems resulting in sick leave.
Although the UK remains relatively safe when compared with its European counterparts, there are clearly still far too many incidents of illness and injury caused by work. In addition, many minor injuries do not need to be reported to the HSE, due to a change in the rules a few years ago, and many employers in any event do not report injuries to the HSE. It is, therefore, impossible to provide a clear picture of accidents and ill health at work.
It must also be highlighted that the HSE’s budget was significantly slashed several years ago and that in 2016/17 there was a fall in the number of HSE prosecutions.
If you have suffered a detriment as a result of highlighting a health and safety problem at work, then you may have a viable whistle-blowing claim and may wish to consider speaking to our Head of Employment Law, Navya Shekhar. Also, if you are one of the thousands of people who have sustained injury as a result of their work, then you may wish to speak with one of our dedicated accident-at-work solicitors in confidence about your options in relation to making a claim.