HSE Fatality Stats
Earlier in July, the Health & Safety Executive who are ultimately responsible for regulation of risk management and safety in the workplace published their provisional report on Fatal Accidents in 2018/19.
Although the report focuses on multiple industries, there are some notably alarming statistics for those involved in the timber trade:
- Of 147 total fatalities reported through RIDDOR, nearly 60% arose in Agriculture, forestry & fishing (32), Construction (30), and Manufacturing (26). These industries often share processes and therefore hazards with the timber trade.
- Nearly 70% of fatalities arose from falls from height (40), strike by moving vehicles (30), strike by moving objects (16) & contact with moving machinery (14).
- The rate of fatalities in the construction industry is four times as high as the average rate across all industries.
Although these statistics make for bleak reading, there are also some positive trends identified:
- The number of fatalities has reduced from 495 in 1981, to 253 in 1998/99 and further to 147 in 2018/19.
- The rate of fatalities per 100,000 workers has shown a long term downward trend since the late 1980s with the rate nearing 2.5 per 100,000, finally levelling out in around 2013/2014 at around 0.5 per 100,000.
This is no doubt partly attributable to improved risk management in the workplace along with a move towards the automation of hazardous processes, although it is clear that significant effort is required across industries to improve these figures.
Fatalities in the workplace can be catastrophic to businesses, impacting productivity, morale & reputation. It would be short-sighted however to ignore the exposure to financial loss following a fatality arising from inevitable costly investigations by the HSE, and potentially large fines levied under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The upper limit for fines in accordance with the Sentencing Council’s ‘Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences Definitive Guideline’ is £10,000,000 for Large Businesses who have shown a ‘Deliberate breach of or flagrant disregard for the law’.
Risk of fatality in the workplace can be effectively managed through the proper execution and application of risk assessments, ongoing employee training and continual monitoring of the processes undertaken. It is also important to ensure that residual exposure to financial loss is adequately covered by your insurance programme and that adequate documentation and proof of compliance is retained to improve defensibility of a claim against you following a loss.
For any queries regarding appropriate insurance and risk management please contact Joe Wood of Jelf.