Fatalities at Work – Does it still happen in the UK?
Posted on 9th January 2021 at 11:29
Although we live in one of the most tightly regulated countries in respect of health and safety at work, accidents at work do still happen. The Health and Safety Executive1 released the following figures for 2018/19: -
4 million working people suffering from a work-related illness
2,526 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (2017)
147 workers killed at work
581,000 working people sustaining an injury at work according to the Labour Force Survey
69,208 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
2 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
£15 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2017/18)
There were 147 workers killed in 2018/192, the majority having fallen from a height or being struck by a moving vehicle at work.
92 members of the public were also killed due to work-related activities in 2018/19.
Fortunately, the rate of people killed at work or due to work-related activities has been declining since 1981. The UK has one of the lowest fatality records compared to other countries in the EU.
Are all work-related deaths reported to the Health and Safety Executive?
There are some exceptions to the rule. If a worker was killed whilst travelling on a public highway, including commuting to and from work, then this is classed as a road traffic accident and is dealt with by the police. Any accidents involving workers travelling by air or sea are dealt with by the Air Accident Investigation Branch or the Marine Accident Investigation Branch. Any worker who dies at work due to a natural cause such as a stroke or heart attack is not reported to HSE, unless it was brought on by trauma due to a work-related accident. Accidents involving members of the armed forces who were on duty at the time are dealt with by the respective military branch. There are also various other exceptions, and these can be found on the Health and Safety Executive’s website.
What is RIDDOR?
RIDDOR is an acronym for The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (2013). It is part of the UK’s health and safety legislation. It requires employers to keep a record and report certain types of accidents and injuries that happen in the workplace.
Issues that must be reported under RIDDOR include: -
Workplace deaths (excluding suicide).
Injuries that result in an employee being absent from work (or unable to complete their normal work duties) for seven consecutive days or longer.
Incidents involving members of the public being injured and resulting in them being taken to hospital.
Certain injuries must be reported such as: -
Fractures (you do not have to report fractures to fingers, thumbs and toes).
Loss or reduction of sight.
Crush injuries that cause internal organ damage.
Serious burns (those that cover more than 10% of the body, or damage the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs).
Scalpings (when the skin has become separated from the head) which require hospital treatment.
Unconsciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia.
Any injury that is a result of working in an enclosed space and leads to hypothermia, heat-induced illness or requires resuscitation or hospital treatment for over 24 hours.
Occupation diseases should be reported under RIDDOR and these include carpal tunnel syndrome, vibration syndrome in the hand and/or arm, tendonitis or tenosynovitis in the hand and/or arm, occupational dermatitis, occupational asthma or occupational cancer to name a few.
Employers are also required to report ‘near miss’ accidents or accidents that could have caused serious harm such as an explosion or fire resulting in work stopping for over 24 hours, workplace equipment such as a crane coming into contact with an overhead power line or large parts of equipment or workplace buildings collapsing, overturning or falling.
What happens when you report an incident under RIDDOR?
RIDDOR ensures that the incident is brought to the attention of the appropriate authority such as the Health and Safety Executive. This gives them the opportunity to decide whether to investigate the incident. If they do, this gives them the ability to identity where and how health and safety risks arise, reveal trends and help to put in place measures to prevent further similar accidents from occurring. By reporting accidents, your employer is helping to ensure this doesn’t happen again and every step is taken to protect other workers in similar situations.
How do I stay safe at work?
There are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe at work.
Understand the risks. All staff should receive a health and safety induction or have an accessible policy at work. Understand what the risks are for your workplace. Do you operate heavy machinery? Do you have to go into a busy factory environment with lots of equipment around? Know where your fire extinguishers, alarms and fire exits are, know what to do in the event of an emergency and find out who your first aiders are.
Reduce workplace stress. Be open and speak to your co-workers or supervisor if you are struggling. Make time for regular exercise and aim for eight hours sleep a night. As tempting as it is, try and avoid the local café or Drive-Thru at lunchtime, and pack yourself a healthy lunch the night before (you’ll save money as well!). Learn to say “no” more to avoid over-stretching yourself.
Take regular breaks at work. Even if it’s just five minutes to stretch your legs and refresh your mind. This will help you to avoid burnout.
Manual handing. Avoid stooping or twisting. If you do need to pick up anything heavy, keep the load close to your body and lift using your thigh muscles. Where possible use equipment to lift heavy loads such as a wheelbarrow, hoist or a forklift truck, depending on what your job is.
Wear protective equipment. If applicable, always wear any necessary protective clothing or equipment such as ear plugs, hard hat or safety goggles to name a few.
Avoid alcohol or drugs. Ensure you are sober whenever you are at work. Avoid that lunchtime pint! 3% of fatal accidents at work involved alcohol or drugs.
Know your rights. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) are a free and helpful service that can advise you on your rights work. Their website www.acas.org.uk has lots of useful information and leaflets to download, or you can always call their free helpline.
Have you suffered a serious injury at work?
We are a firm of personal injury solicitors with offices in Warrington. We act for employees who have suffered as a result of an accident at work.
We can help you to recover compensation for a variety of injuries such as: -
Serious burns and scarring
We work with medical professionals such as doctors and physiotherapists to define the status of your injury and how it could be resolved, or what the long-term prognosis will be. Arranging rehabilitation and immediate needs assessment will be one of the first things we do. Your recovery is a priority and we aim to make your claim as stress-free as possible.
I have lost a family member to an accident at work. Can you help me?
Yes. Although it is probably the furthest thing from your mind there are very strict time limits involved in bringing a claim. We can help you to recover the compensation you deserve and to find out the answers as to why this happened. If you have lost someone close to you such as a husband or wife, or a son or daughter, you may be able to bring legal action on their behalf. We will support you every step of the way and can advise and help you if it goes to a Coroner’s Inquest.
How to get in touch
You can call us on 01925 937070 or email Diane Massey, an experienced personal injury solicitor, at [email protected]
We offer ‘no win, no fee’ meaning that if your claim is unsuccessful you will not pay us anything. We offer hospital or home visits if you are unable to travel to see us. We are always here to answer any questions you may have and will guide you through the process step by step.
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