The Health and Safety Executive is marking its 40th anniversary with an appeal for Scottish businesses and self-employed workers to make wellbeing and safety their top priority for the new financial year.
The call comes as new figures show that 20 people lost their lives while at work across the country in 2013/14 and 6,871 suffered injury. That compares to 23 deaths and 7,156 injuries in Scotland the previous year. In addition, around 81,000 people were estimated to have been made ill in Scotland through their work over the same period.
Nationally, across Great Britain, there were 133 deaths at work in 2013/14, more than 79,500 injuries were formally reported (through RIDDOR) and over 1.1 million people are estimated to have been made ill.
That is a huge reduction from when HSE was formally established in January 1975 to enforce the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – the statute that underpins all health and safety legislation, and that is credited with making the UK one of the safest places to work in the world. In 1974/75 a total of 651 employees alone were killed, and that is without including self-employed workers whose deaths were not recorded in the same way.
The stark decline is welcome, but local employers are being urged to review whether they can do more to protect their workforce.
“The figures offer encouragement that we are continuing to head in the right direction, but they also show that we can still go further and challenge the industries where there is room to do more,” commented Alistair McNab, HSE Head of Operations for Scotland.
“Workplace conditions have improved dramatically in the past four decades, but as employers and self-employed workers plan and prepare for the new financial year they need to ensure that health, safety and welfare is a clear focus,” he said.
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