Health and safety measures sometimes come in for ridicule and criticism, and yet The Health and Safety Executive have been forced to issue new warnings to employers in the UK as deaths in the workplace are again on the increase.
• In 2009/10, 147 people were killed at work.
• This rose to 171 for the year 2010/11, with 24,700 workers suffering serious injury.
Certain industries are, of course, more high risk than others; construction, agriculture, and waste and recycling related deaths made up more than half of all workplace deaths last year. All workers face some kind of risk, however, and employers are being urged to make their workers’ safety a priority for this new year.
Adequate health and safety training is the most effective way to reduce the risks faced by workers. Employees need to be made aware of the risks they face, risk assessments need to evaluate the risks specific to different workplaces, and these risks need to be minimised.
Failure to ensure that workers’ lives are protected can have devastating consequences for individuals if and when things go wrong. It is not about being over-cautious, but about protecting valuable lives.