Provisional figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have revealed a slight increase in the number of workplace fatalities in 2015/16.
Rise in Workplace Fatality Figures
According to the figures, 144 people lost their lives at work during the year, an increase of two over the previous year. The figures do not include work-related deaths from fatal diseases.
Looking at the figures in more detail, they show that:
Forty three workers died in construction, the same as the average for the previous five years.
In agriculture there were 27 deaths (compared to the five-year average of 32).
In manufacturing there were 27 deaths (compared to five-year average 22), but this figure includes three incidents that resulted in a total of eight deaths.
There were six fatal injuries to workers in waste and recycling, compared to the five-year average of seven, but subject to considerable yearly fluctuation.
Looking at the figures on a geographical basis, they show that in 2015/16 the highest fatal injury rates across all countries and regions were Wales (0.93 per 100,000 workers); Scotland (0.60); and Yorkshire and the Humber (0.58).
The HSE has also released the latest available figures on deaths from asbestos-related cancer. Mesothelioma, which is contracted through past exposure to asbestos, killed 2,515 in Great Britain in 2014 compared to 2,556 in 2013.
The HSE regularly prosecutes employers who flout the strict regulations in place to control exposure to asbestos.
Earlier this month a motor manufacturer was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £11,779 in prosecution costs after work being undertaken at one of its sites exposed contractors to risks associated with asbestos.
An investigation by the HSE found that during work to replace high pressure hot water boilers with gas burners in the company’s paint unit, suspected asbestos insulating boards (AIB) were discovered beneath external cladding on the stores building.
On the day the suspected boards were discovered the asbestos register was not fully available to the contractor to allow them to check whether the boards contained asbestos. No direct instruction was given by the motor company to the contractor to stop the work to prevent any AIB being disturbed. The work, including the removal and cutting of holes in AIB board, continued without suitable precautions.
Legal Duty to Control Asbestos Exposure
“Asbestos kills around 5,000 workers each year; this is more than the number killed on UK roads,” commented HSE inspector Jane Carroll. “Asbestos can be present within any premises built or refurbished before the year 2000.”
“Whenever asbestos containing materials are found to be present, companies have a legal duty to document and implement an Asbestos Management Plan which includes measures to adequately control the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres,” she added.
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