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British workplaces among safest in the world

Date:
28 July 2014

Figures at a record low on the 40th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act

The number of people who lose their lives at work has dropped sharply by 85 per cent over the past forty years, from over 650 employees in 1974 to a record low of 133 workers in 2014.

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. The statistics illustrate the enormous impact of an act that created a flexible, proportionate and world class regulatory system.

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.”

Judith Hackitt, Chair of the HSE, said: “Our health and safety law places responsibility on those who create risk to manage that risk in a proportionate practical way. It sets standards in terms of outcomes to be achieved, not by strait-jacketing dutyholders and business into doing things in a particular way according to prescriptive rules.

“This means that it is universally applicable – regardless of whether you’re farming, fracking for shale gas or working with nano-materials in an ultra high-tech laboratory. The Health and Safety at Work Act may be 40 years old but it – and our regulatory system – is world class.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The 85 per cent reduction in fatalities refers to employees only as the 1974 reporting did not include the self-employed.
  2. Last year there were 27 fatal injuries to agriculture workers, 42 in construction and four in waste and recycling, all lower than the average over the past few years
  3. For more information on the 40th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/40/
  4. Injury and ill health statistics can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/

 

 

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