The equivalent of a jumbo-jet-load of passengers dies every fortnight in Britain because of the failure to ensure safe and healthy conditions in workplaces, RoSPA said as Workers' Memorial Day (April 28) approaches.
Roger Bibbings, Occupational Safety Adviser for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “Because workers rarely die in high-profile disasters, their plight and the silent suffering of their families tends to go unnoticed.
“But if one jumbo jet crashed every two weeks killing all 400 people on board there would be a national outcry – and that is the rate at which workers are dying. Workers' Memorial Day offers a chance to remember those who have been harmed at work and to redouble efforts to protect those who remain at risk.”
He said Government ministers claimed justifiably that reportable workplace injuries had come down and that the UK was now almost in pole position in the world when it came to accident rates. But the latest HSE figure of 241 notifiable deaths due to accidents to workers could disguise the true extent of the health and safety problem in the UK.
Over 100 members of the public (still under-reported) die annually in accidents connected with work activity. About 1,000 people die in work-related road accidents and many thousands suffer early death due to work-related health damage (estimates vary from 6,000 to 24,000 cases).
“By focusing only on accident deaths at the top of the casualty iceberg, there is a danger of losing sight of figures for the overall injury and ill-health toll which tend to remain below the water line,” Roger Bibbings said.
“There are more than 1.1 million work-related injuries annually – excluding road injuries – and about 2.2 million cases of ill health caused or made worse by work. In all, this is estimated to contribute to about 36 million lost working days.
“This is equivalent to more than 20 jumbos landing every day in the UK loaded with sick and injured people. And around the world more workers continue to be killed, injured or made ill by their work than all those who die in armed conflicts.
“For families and friends affected by each of these tragedies, their loss cannot be measured by statistics.
“At a time when it has become fashionable to poke fun at 'elf and safety', these stark figures should serve to remind everyone of the true extent of pain, suffering and loss due to the failure to manage risks associated with work.”
For more information see: http://www.tuc.org.uk/h_and_s/tuc-11563-f0.cfm
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The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents: Registered Charity No. 207823 and a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 231435. RoSPA Enterprises Limited (REL) is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. REL is a company registered in England and Wales 3021397.
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