Each month the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a particular focus. We look at what is happening in December as well as some key prosecutions in this month’s HSE update.
The HSE is expected to maintain a focus on Covid-secure workplace inspections throughout December, with particular attention paid towards the transport and logistics industries. As demand for online shopping increases in the run up to Christmas, the HSE will be making regular visits to warehouses and distribution centres, looking to ensure that Covid guidance remains a top priority for employers.
A new set of statistics have been released for 2019/20, outlining incidents of death, injury, and illness within the workplace. Within these statistics, it has been highlighted that 111 workers sustained fatal injuries during this period (24% increase on 2018/19), with an additional 2446 deaths attributed to asbestos exposure (4% decrease). It was also found that 65,427 RIDDOR reports were made (5% decrease).
Although these reductions are great to see, the statistics are likely to be impacted by significant working hour reductions as a result of Covid-19. In addition to this, the figures still represent 2557 workers who needlessly lost their lives and 65,427 individuals with potentially life-changing injuries.
Furthermore, the period also saw 1.6 million people suffer a work-related illness (14% increase on 2018/19), with 693,000 people sustaining work-related injuries (19% increase).
Overall, these incidents led to 38.8 million working days being lost due to death, injury and illness (38% increase on 2018/19), incurring a total cost of £16.2 billion for the economy.
Prosecutions in November covered separate incidents involving three fatalities and eleven major life changing injuries. These prosecutions led to fines exceeding a total of £2.5 million and three prison sentences spanning a total of 3.5 years.
One of these sentences was given in relation to an incident that caused no injuries to an individual, with the employer facing charges on the basis that there was potential for major harm. As outlined in last month’s update, this reinforces the fact that the HSE will prosecute based on any serious near misses. It should always be remembered that even if no injury has occurred, you could still end up with a fine or worse.
Commonly identified issues across November’s cases were a lack of managed risks, safe systems of work, and training. Alongside this, there were multiple instances of poor planning, management, supervision and instruction.
To ensure that these problems do not arise within your business, it is crucial that you appoint a competent person for health and safety. When doing so, you should always question whether they have the sufficient training, knowledge and experience to advise on health and safety.
AHR Consultants can act as your competent person and help prevent accidents in your workplace. This includes the provision of suitable evidence that helps to portray procedures as both reasonable and practical.