2018 Health & Safety Statistics – What Do They Tell Us?
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has released a set of figures relating to health and safety in the workplace from 2017 to 2018. The bigger picture shows that overall, workplaces are becoming safer but there are still pockets of concern.
Over half a million workers are suffering from a new case of ill health during 2017/18 which includes stress, depression or anxiety. A large figure can lead to a conclusion that this means workplace stress and depression is getting worse.
But what it can also indicate is that we are more open and tolerant of mental health issues in the workplace, with employers making strides to understand the issues and support their employees.
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are also still an issue with 156,000 new cases reported. Alongside long-standing cases, 6.6 million working days were lost due to injuries of this kind.
Breaking it down further, 18% musculoskeletal disorders related to lower limbs, 40% related to back injuries with 42% related to upper limbs or the neck. The industry in which workers were affected most was ‘agriculture, forestry and fishing’, followed closely by the construction industry.
The thing with statistics is that we mustn’t forget that behind the numbers are people. 144 people didn’t return home from work last year as a result of a fatal accident at work. And over half a million workers self-reported non-fatal injuries after an accident at work.
420,000 workers hurt at work were able to return to work within 7 days, with 135,000 being absent for 7 days or longer, with 3.9 million working days overall lost as a result.
The most common type of workplace accident was a slip, trip or fall on the same levels with more than a third of accidents placed in this category. What is worrying to note is that 7% of workplace injuries were the result of ‘acts of violence’.
The HSE is responsible for investigating and enforcing infringements and fines relating to breaches of health and safety. 493 cases were prosecuted or referred to COPFS for prosecution in Scotland by the HSE and convictions achieved.
There were over 11,000 notices issued by all enforcing bodies too. Fines resulting from prosecutions, including this in Scotland totalled £72.6 million. Overall, this paints a picture of more fines and more prosecutions, especially when compared to relatively low levels of enforcement from 2013/14.
The good news is that the work carried out by HSE along with training providers across all industries results in the UK as a whole has one of the lowest fatalities at work rate across the EU.
In respect of self-reported health problems, we also have one of the lowest rates with less than 2% of workers being off work due to ill-health. However, in relating to self-reported work-related injuries, we have work to do.
In terms of financial costs, annuals costs relating to workplace injuries stands at £5.2 billion, a figure that the employer and Government have to bear but the statistics show that the person who bears the brunt of the financial cost of being hurt at work is the employee.
The human cost of being injured at work or suffering from ill-health is huge and yet, so many injuries and incidences of ill-health could be avoided with health and safety training, and other related courses.
For the full set of health and safety statistics for 2017-18 from HSE, take a look at their informative report.