Official HSE statistics have revealed that in the 2013/14 period 1.2 million employees suffered from a work related illness and a further 78,000 reported work related injuries. Overall these illnesses and injuries cost British employers an estimated £14.2 billion.
As well as over a million work related illness cases and tens of thousands of work related injuries the 2013/14 period also saw 133 workplace fatalities. While this figure is 19% lower than the average death rate that has been recorded over the past five years 133 is still an alarmingly high figure.
HSE chair Judith Hackett stresses that while the figures are lower British employers need to take each and every death extremely seriously. “We should remind ourselves what these numbers actually mean – the number of times in the last year someone went out to work and either did not return home to their loved ones or came home with life-changing injuries,” she says.
According to HSE the most common workplace hazards resulting in illness and accidents were manual handling, handling harmful materials and sitting still for extended periods of time. While not all illnesses are immediately life threatening Hackett maintains that “the health numbers also demonstrate the scale of harm being done to people’s health while at work, too often leading to premature death.”
The data also revealed information on the most common forms of accidents and injury. Topping the list were trips/slips/falls, electrical incidents and manual handling of goods/heavy lifting.
When it comes to injuries HSE identified five key culprits. These include sprains/strains, back injuries, head traumas, neck injuries and repetitive strain damage. Other workplace related injuries and illnesses included deafness, dermatitis, occupational asthma and vibration white finger.
While some sectors reported very few incidents others fell victim to a large number of accidents, injuries and illnesses. Agriculture was the most dangerous area to work in, reporting a huge 2240 injuries per 100,000 workers. The constructionindustry reported 1550 per 100,000 employees while the transport sector recorded 1350 for every 100,000 workers.
The business sectors enjoying the lowest injury rate was finance, with just 310 incidents per 100,000 employees. Finance was followed by education which recorded 610.
Some sectors are significantly less dangerous than others however it is important to remember thatthe risk of workplace accidents and injuries is never entirely eliminated. As such it pays for every business to cover themselves with a comprehensive employee liability insurance policy. Not only does this protect employees but it was also support the business in a worst case scenario.