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111 too many

Like many in the health and safety profession, I have one aim. That we will reduce to zero the number of people who go to work at the start of their shift, but never go home.

This week, the Health and Safety Executive released its provisional statistics for the number of workplace fatalities for the year ending 31 March 2020.

In businesses regulated by the HSE, there were 111 worker fatalities in that year, the lowest figure recorded on record. This is a drop of 38 people on the year before And continues the downward trend from the horrendous figure of 495 fatalities in 1981, and 220 recorded in 1999/2000.

To employers and those with health and safety responsibilities everywhere this is heartening news, and an important sign that health and safety is being taken seriously.

Reported separately, 92 members of the public were also killed in workplace incidents, and the thousands who die annually from historical exposure to asbestos.

The main reason I do my job, and run my business is to try to ensure that people go home to their families at the end of their working day or night. What actual impact I have on these figures is nigh on impossible to work out, but as a collective, all health and safety professionals across the country are making a difference.

But it is 111 people too many. The one positive I am getting out of the COVID-19 disaster is that so many businesses have contacted me for help and advice. It has raised the importance of health and safety in the workplace to unprecedented levels. Businesses have to get it right to stay open, to protect their staff and their customers. Long may that renewed interest in health and safety continue.

Construction, agriculture and the waste industry remain the main causes for concern where the fatalities are occurring, with the over 60s the most likely to be killed at work. The biggest fatality hazard comes from working at height.

Next year work related COVID-19 deaths will more than likely see the figures rise dramatically, but this should just be a one year blip.

Lets continue all the good work, let’s get that figure into double figures, and maybe, just maybe, one day that goal of zero workplace deaths may just become a reality.


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