We cannot drop our guard on safety

This summer, the latest statistics from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) on workplace fatalities were released for 2018/2019. While we have had a lot to be heartened about in recent years regarding improved safety performance in the UK, all it takes is a little slip to interrupt positive progress.

The new HSE figures report that 147 people were fatally injured in the UK as a result of doing their jobs between April 2018 and March 2019. There was an increase of six fatalities in the 2018-2019 period, in comparison to 2017-2018.

And the three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be, workers falling from height numbering 40 incidents, being struck by a moving vehicle accounts for 30 and being struck by a moving object at 16. All of these making up nearly 60% of fatal injuries in 2018/19.

The usual suspect sectors, agriculture, forestry & fishing and construction, reflected the highest fatalities, with 32 and 34 death respectively for 2018 and 2019.

The sectors with the highest risk of injury remain the same, agriculture, forestry and fishing and waste and recycling. Their rates of fatal injury are around 18 times higher than the average 1 across all industries respectively.

As our clients, collaborators and friends know, construction and waste & recycling are two target sectors for SiteZone Safety and have been for a while. The collision risks in both are high, with numerous annual injuries and fatalities. We are committed to changing and even reversing those statistics if humanly possible. Every worker should be safe.

That’s why I think it’s important to share that cultural change in the safety world is an ongoing conversation and should be progressed with constantly evolving actions.  We as safety professionals, have a responsibility not to drop the ball. We hold a lot of leverage when it comes to the difference between workers being safe and going home unharmed at the end of the day, or not returning to their loved ones ever again.

This is not supposed to be doom and gloom, but just a rallying call to continued action to the amazing, hard working health & safety professionals out there, and anyone else who is a part of the story. Regardless of what else may be going on around us in the world, let’s not abandon the fundamental humanities of the workplace. 

I’m reaching out to employers to continue to prioritise their employees’ welfare, especially in high risk industries.  Invest in workplace safety and occupational health. Health & Safety managers, keep exploring technological advances that help to raise the bar on safety where you work. And also, I cannot emphasise this enough – train, train, train your employees in good safety practice - consistently. It’s no coincidence that there’s an adage that says ‘knowledge is power’. When we are armed with the right information, great changes are possible. If the changes can affect personal safety, then it’s even more pressing that we embrace it.

While we at SiteZone Safety put a great deal of emphasis on our safety technology, none of it works without training and education on how to use it effectively. When all the aspects of health & safety awareness and practice work together, rather than in isolation, then we’ll eradicate those fatality numbers.

 

1 (annual average rates for 2014/15-2018/19)

About the author

Gary Escott is the co-founder of SiteZone Safety, he has worked in the field of mobile plant safety for 15 years and has worked on the introduction of technology based safety products across other sectors. His goal is reducing the risk of collisions between vehicles and vulnerable persons using innovative products and technology.

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