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Accident figures needed so real problems can be identified

A major RoSPA conference will open tomorrow (Tuesday) with an update on efforts to sort out the “sorry mess” that is the recent history of gathering home and leisure accident data in the UK.

Lord Jordan of Bournville, the newly-elected RoSPA President, will tell delegates at the safety charity's National Home Safety Congress that the UK was once a world leader in the collection of data that was used to identify how people were being injured at home and at leisure.

In 2002, however, the former Department of Trade and Industry stopped collecting fresh data through the Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance Systems (HASS/LASS), which gathered information about people visiting accident and emergency departments.

Lord Jordan will say that complacency about the country's good safety record was one of the reasons for the demise of the system.

He will say: “It was a misguided move. When you have a good system, you have to maintain and develop it or it will dry up and shrivel, and that is exactly what has happened here in the UK. Now we, formerly the leaders in this vital area, are the followers. That is a situation which RoSPA is not prepared to accept.”

During the last year, RoSPA, in partnership with the Electrical Safety Council and Intertek, and supported by the Department of Health, has been conducting research into the need for data collection.

The initial findings of the project will be presented to delegates at the Hilton Blackpool hotel on Wednesday. Researchers found that there was widespread support for the collection of data so that accident trends could be spotted and prevention work targeted at them. Work will now begin on establishing how data could be collected in the four home nations.

The last figures from HASS revealed that 2.7 million people in the UK had to visit hospital after a home accident in 2002.

Errol Taylor, RoSPA Deputy Chief Executive, welcomed progress on the data collection project. He said: “RoSPA has handled enquiries about the old HASS/LASS data since 2002. In fact, about 70,000 people have accessed the data via the RoSPA website in the last year – a 40 per cent rise on the year before – which shows there is still a thirst for information.

“The database project report that will be presented at congress on Wednesday makes recommendations on how to use and enhance existing data systems to capture all the detail relating to the circumstances leading up to someone's injury. This information is essential for us to learn from experience and prevent such injuries from happening again.”

RoSPA's National Home Safety Congress is sponsored by Safe-T-Light. For full details of the two-day programme, visit www.rospa.com/home/

For more information about the injury database project, visit www.rospa.com/hassandlass/update.htm

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