Workplace deaths

Death at work rate drops by 85% over four decades

According to new figures from the Health and Safety Executive, nationally, the number of people who lose their lives at work has dropped sharply by 85 per cent over the past 40 years.  This is down from more than 650 every year in 1974 to a record low of 133 last year.

The number of injuries at work has also reduced considerably by 77 per cent over the same time period, from 336,701 to 78,222.

These statistics illustrate the impact of the Health and Safety at Work Act, which came into being in 1974.

In the West Midlands during 2012-2013, there were 14 fatal work place incidents, and 1,855 major injuries suffered in the work place. There were also 6,043 injuries suffered by workers which kept injured persons off work for seven days or longer.

The 1974 Act paved the way for the creation of the Health and Safety Commission and the establishment of the Health and Safety Executive as we know it today – which regulates health and safety law working with industry to help them manage their health and safety risks effectively and also bringing irresponsible employers to justice.

Minister of State for Health and Safety, Mark Harper, said:

“Britain has come an incredibly long way over the past forty years in protecting its workforce. Our workplace safety record is now the envy of the world, with businesses and governments queuing up to tap into our expertise.  Any death at work is a death too many. But few can dispute that the reduction in fatalities and injuries over the past 40 years is a significant step forward. Britain is now officially one of the safest places in Europe – and the world – to work.  So, while we all rightly curse false health and safety excuses, it’s worth thinking how fortunate we are today that we can go out to do a hard day’s work safe in the knowledge that our safety is being taken seriously.”

Samantha Peace, HSE’s director for Wales, the Midlands and the South West, said:

“Our health and safety law places responsibility on those who create risk to manage that risk in a proportionate practical way.”