Accidents at work fatality figures show need for caution

July 7, 2012

Personal injury solicitors who represent the families of workers who have been seriously injured or killed due to accidents in the workplace have called on the coalition government to be careful about its proposed intention to water down safety at work legislation. The call has come after the latest release of workplace fatalities by the Health and Safety Executive.

The current government has been proposing to reduce and dilute the present regulations, which in their view are too restrictive and make it difficult for many businesses to make a profit. The Health and Safety provisions have even been described as a “monster” by some government MPs.

The Health & Safety Executive has just released its figures for workplace related injuries which show that the number of deaths in the 2011 / 2012 year caused by deficient workplace safety conditions are almost unchanged since the previous year, showing that the issue of workplace safety is still a major concern. The number of deaths in 2011 stood at 173, while the previous year there were 175 workers killed while at work.

According to some in the personal injury sector, the real number of deaths caused by workplace accidents may be quite a bit higher. Quite a number of road accident fatalities involve people who are actually at work or who are driving because of their work and their statistics do not show up as workplace accidents because of the way the deaths are recorded.

Of the workplace accident fatalities, the greatest number recorded were people in the construction industry, with 49 people dying while at work. Workers in the services industry were close to this figure with 44 deaths. However, the greatest likelihood of a fatal accident while at work lay with the agricultural sector as the rate of deaths per worker was highest with nearly ten deaths per 100,000 workers.

Personal injury spokespersons have commented that the current government’s drive to simplify and reduce the health and safety regulations comes after years of slow improvements to safety in the workplace and have recommended that the government, while acknowledging that businesses should not be overly restricted by too much bureaucracy, should ensure that workers are safe in the places that they work and that employers are held responsible for the safety of their employees.

With regard to the upcoming LASPO Act and its effects on personal injury claims, the government has been urged to ensure that the right that all workers have had up to now, regardless of their income or wealth level, to be able to make a claim for compensation if they have been injured as a result of a workplace accident which was not their fault.