People sometimes get the wrong idea about health and safety. Newspapers like The Daily Mail seem to be on a mission to belittle the efforts of Health and Safety officials, pointing to ludicrous examples of people overreacting to potential hazards, and talking about ‘health and safety gone mad.’ Of course the real picture is very different from what’s portrayed in this bizarre media game. Health and Safety is about protecting workers from serious dangers in the workplace, and trying to prevent the kinds of tragedies that take away loved ones or leave people debilitated for life.
So do these efforts to improve legislation actually translate into better safety? The figures speak for themselves. The UK’s worker death rate has been reducing annually for the past six years, and has shown an overall pattern of reduction over the last decade. In 1998, there were over 1.5 deaths per 100,000 workers in the UK. In 2011 there were 0.6 deaths per one hundred thousand. The improvement is staggering, as is the rapidity of the UK’s improvement when compared to other countries.
The average death rate across the whole of Europe also falls annually, but out of the major economies, the UK shows itself to be by far the safest place to work. Over the last ten years France shows an average death rate around 1.68 per 100,000, Germany around 1.87, Italy 2.39, Spain 2.63, Poland 3.54. The UK’s average over ten years is somewhere around 1.3 per 100,000.
Compared to the USA the contrast is even more striking. The US economic recovery seems to be plaguing attempts to improve worker safety. As a result the figures show no annual improvement over recent years. In 2010 the average worker death rate per 100,000 was 3.5. This meant 4, 547 deaths, over four hundred of which were murders carried out in the workplace.
Even with these improvements, 171 workers were killed in accidents in 2011. Farming especially showed itself to be lagging behind other areas in terms of worker safety. That means there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Make an accident at work claim if you have been injured at work.