FEWER people in the East of England are dying or being seriously injured at work, according to figures for 2009/10 released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
There were 2,298 serious workplace injuries recorded in the region last year compared to 2,359 in 2008/9 and ten deaths – two fewer than the previous year.
However, the number of people in the East of England who believe they were made ill through their work rose by 3,000 from an estimated 125,000 in 2008/09 to an estimated 128,000 last year.
An estimated 2.9 million working days were lost (full-day equivalent) in the region during 2009/10 to workplace injury and work-related ill health. This equates to an average annual loss of an estimated 1.3 days per worker.
Heather Bryant, regional director for HSE, said, “This is once again a step in the right direction, but conversely these figures show that there are still numerous cases where the health and safety of workers is still not being taken seriously. It is not trivia. Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees. Health and safety needs to be at the very heart of the business and not seen as an add-on, tick-box exercise at best or an unnecessary burden at worst.
“Last year in the East of England we secured convictions for 79 breaches of health and safety law by companies and individuals. We will continue to target those who fail to meet the standards that employees have a right to expect and put people at real risk.”
Across England, Scotland and Wales, 28.5 million working days (equivalent to 1.2 days per worker) were lost to injury and ill health last year – compared with 29.3 million in 2008/09.
National workplace fatal injuries fell from 179 in 2008/09 to a record low of 152 in 2009/10, and there was a reduction of more than 11,000 in the number of workplace injuries classified as major or incurring more than three days absence from work.
Comparison with international data still shows Britain to be one of the safest places to work in the EU.
Judith Hackitt, chair of HSE said, “It is encouraging to see further reduction in the number of people being killed and seriously injured at work. We now need to ensure that the improvements that are being made continue. Every statistic represents an individual or a family that is now suffering as a result of health and safety failings at work.
“Britain remains one of the safest places to work in the EU and we are rightly proud of this record. The challenge now is to focus on those areas where improvement is slow to emerge.
“We know what good practice looks like but there remain significant areas of poor practice which still result in serious harm to people at work. These statistics also remind us yet again of the significant gains which are yet to be made in reducing the harm caused to people’s health by work.”
Major injuries at work have fallen since 2000 and this trend continued last year with 27,096 workers reported as being injured in 2009/10 (91.0 per 100,000) compared with 29,000 in 2008/09 (95.2 per 100,000).
The number of people estimated to be suffering from work-related ill health in 2009/10 was 1.3 million. Almost 1.2 million fewer working days were lost to ill health – a total of 23.4 million.