Workplace death statistics must be more detailed, says PASMA

Published:  06 July, 2012

Workplace fatality figures from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) need to be "more detailed" as the reduction in the number of deaths stalls, according to PASMA and the British Safety Council.

The HSE's provisional fatal injury statistics for 2011/12 show a modest reduction in the number of workplace deaths – 173 compared with 175 the previous year.

PASMA says the figures, although clearly important, do "little or nothing" to help identify the cause of these fatalities. The Association says this data is essential to help target information and initiatives at those areas needing it most.

Working at height is a major cause of workplace injuries and deaths, and PASMA says it is committed to advancing safety and best practice in that sector, but that the need for in-depth information is "paramount in order to help influence future outcomes" and enable all organisations who champion safety to focus their attention where it matters most.

Neil Tomlinson, PASMA’s head of marketing and communications, said: “Only in this way will we be able to prioritise, direct and take the action necessary to influence the figures and be able to demonstrably show progress on significantly reducing accident statistics.”

Meanwhile, the British Safety Council has expressed "serious concern" that the reduction in the number of deaths at work has stalled over the last two years.

The number of deaths caused by fatal injury in the last two statistical years – 175 in 2010/11 and 173 in 2011/12 – has increased from the historically low figure of 147 deaths in 2009/10.

Neal Stone, director of policy and communications at the British Safety Council, said: “While the number of deaths in Britain resulting from workplace injury has halved over the last twenty years, it is a serious concern that the reduction in both the number and incidence of deaths has stalled over the last two years.

”The fatal injuries that occurred in 2011/12 are a tragedy and a stark reminder that the health and safety regulatory framework is a fundamental protection to help keep workers healthy and safe. We must remember those 173 workers and the families and friends they left behind.

“Nor should we forget the thousands of other people who died in 2011/12 as a result of work-related diseases and work-related road traffic accidents. We must better understand the causes of these deaths and why they were not prevented. We owe that to future generations of workers.”

The statistics record that 49 workers died as a result of fatal accidents in the construction sector, 33 in the agricultural sector, and 31 people died who worked in manufacturing.

Falls from heights and falls continue to be the two most significant causes of fatal injury in the workplace, accounting for over half of the 173 deaths recorded in 2011/12.

Scotland and Wales recorded the highest incidence rate by country and region. The fatal injury incidence rate for Wales is almost five times the rate for London and the South East, and over twice the national average. The incidence rate for Scotland, too, is significantly higher than the national average.