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Workplace deaths underestimated by 800%

The government has been accused of hiding behind statistics, as workplace deaths are underestimated by more than 800%, trade union Unite has said.

The comments came in the run-up to International Workers' Memorial Day, which took place on Saturday 28th April. Unite has accused ministers of introducing ‘light touch’ health and safety regulations and called for an increase - not a decrease - in the number of inspectors and workplace inspections.

Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Using the official statistics enables the government to suggest that UK health and safety is better than everywhere else, and provides an excuse, albeit a very thin excuse, for cutting the health and safety responsibilities of UK employers.

“This is a complete myth, since the real number of people killed in work-related incidents each year is probably closer to 1,400, over eight times the official Health and Safety Executive figure for 2011 of 171.”

In addition, at least 20,000 more women and men die every year - some estimates put this as high as 50,000 people - from occupational diseases, such as mesothellioma and cancers caused by negligent exposures at work to hazardous substances, such as asbestos, chemicals and dusts.

Unite is calling for:

  • No reduction in the legal protection for workers on health and safety.
  • Those who create risk must be held accountable.
  • No freedom from inspections and an increase in inspector numbers.
  • Recognition and support for the role that union safety representatives play.
  • More action to prevent occupational diseases.


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