Each month we identify the current focus of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and provide a summary of key statistics and prosecutions from the previous month.

New statistics attribute 2,369 deaths to asbestos exposure

Ahead of the annual full release of figures in December, the HSE has published a set of provisional statistics for workplace fatalities in Britain.

These statistics feature a detailed focus on mesothelioma, which is a type of cancer linked commonly to asbestos exposure. In a newly released 24-page document, it is stated that 2,369 mesothelioma deaths occurred in Britain during 2019, which represents a 7% decrease on the annual average number between 2012 and 2018.

While this decrease offers encouragement, the number of deaths is still deeply concerning, serving as another reminder of the importance of minimising occupational asbestos exposure. If your employees operate on a premises that was built or refurbished before 2000, it is crucial that you can manage asbestos correctly and maintain compliance with asbestos legislation.

Two companies were prosecuted for failing to manage asbestos as recently as July 2021, with one director being sentenced to six months in prison for this offence.

To help employers become confident with asbestos management, we provide an onsite Asbestos Awareness training course which is aimed at anyone with building safety responsibilities. The course includes tailored guidance on where asbestos may be located within a premises, allowing the employer start implementing the necessary steps to manage it.

For more information about asbestos or to enquire about the training course, contact our team of H&S experts today on 0345 076 2288.

Six fatalities lead to fines of over £2million in July

Prosecutions in July covered separate incidents involving six fatalities and eight significant injuries and ill health accidents. Two prison sentences were also issued, spanning a collective total of 27 months. As a result of this month’s incidents, over £2million in fines were paid by employers, with one manufacturer contributing £910,000 to this total. This was in relation to a fatal accident involving a delivery driver, with the HSE’s investigation finding that the company’s risk assessments were not suitable or sufficient. The inspector added that this tragic loss of life could have easily been avoided, providing that the company had “identified the risks and put straightforward control measures and safe working practices in place”.

In summary, the commonly identified issues during July were:

  • Unsuitable risk assessments
  • A lack of robust checks (relating specifically to asbestos)
  • Ineffective training
  • Unsafe systems of work and procedures
  • Inadequate protective measures, including barriers, guarding, and PPE
  • Insufficient supervision

It is vital for employers to be robust in their approach to assessing workplace risk, as ultimately these efforts can be lifesaving. While you may already have risk assessments in place, are you confident that they would be considered suitable and sufficient from the perspective of an enforcement officer? Reviewing your risk assessments regularly is just as important as completing them in the first place.

With our team of experienced H&S Consultants, we can provide onsite support with the creation of risk assessments and complete a comprehensive review of your existing approach. This service is supported by further guidance on control measures and workplace procedures, helping you to attain peace of mind in the safety of your business. As experts in all areas of health and safety, we can also act as your competent person, provide employee training, and deliver immediate legal advice.

Download a free personalised Health and Safety Risk Report to assess your current compliance levels with policies, risk assessments, and training. These areas are summarised as the three pillars of defensibility, helping you to minimise the prospect of enforcement action if utilised correctly.

For any other health and safety queries, call us today on 0345 076 2288 or submit a question using the form below.