Call for Increased Focus on Preventing “Unacceptable” Workplace Deaths

An increase in the number of people killed in workplace accidents serves as a “stark reminder” of the need to focus on worker protection, said the President of the chartered occupational health and safety body.

According to recent figures published by the Health and Safety Executive on 4 July, there were 144 fatalities in British workplaces between 2017-18, up from 135 in the previous year.

Craig Foyle, President of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), said businesses must take action to protect employees from avoidable workplace death or injury and find modern ways of safeguarding workers. He said:

“Nobody should have their life cut short by work so we must strive to ensure that working people are protected and can return home to their families safe and well. This must be a business priority, there are no excuses for that not being the case.

“Last year, nearly three people were killed at work every week and these deaths are entirely preventable. That is unacceptable. And let’s not forget those who are seriously injured at work as well. When you take into account the emotional and financial implications on families, the impact of workplace accidents is huge and today serves as a stark reminder of that.

“The world of work is changing and this brings new health and safety risks. We need to continue to find new ways to protect working people”.

The Health & Safety Executive’s report noted that nearly half of all fatal accidents in 2017-18 occurred in construction and agriculture, with 38 and 29 deaths respectively.

The three most common causes of fatalities were falls from height (35), being struck by a moving vehicle (26) and being struck by a moving object (26).

Of the 144 people killed at work this year, 40% were aged 60 or over, despite that age group only accounting for 10% of the current British workforce.

Meanwhile, 100 members of the public were fatally injured in incidents connected with work, with just over 50% of these occurring on the UK’s railways.

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