East Anglia: HSE urges employers to prioritise safety in 2013

EMPLOYERS in eastern England are being urged to rethink their safety provisions after a year in which the number of people killed in accidents at work failed to show any improvement.

Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that 19 workers lost their lives in the region during 2011-12, the same number as during the previous 12 months.

The figure was largely in line with the national picture with 173 people having been killed at work in Great Britain in the past year, a fall of just two compared with 2010-11.

The highest-risk industries were construction (with 49 deaths last year), agriculture (33), manufacturing (31) and waste and recycling (five), together making up more than half the total for 2011-12.

There was some slightly better news in the eastern region, with the number of people suffering work-related injuries class as “major” falling from 2,341 to 2,141, while the number of injuries resulting in the victim being absent from work for more than three days also dipped, from 8,327 to 8,274.

However, Simon Longbottom, the HSE’s head of operations for the East, said the accident toll clearly showed that employers needed to make the safety of workers their top priority for 2013.

“Each year, instead of enjoying the occasion, families of workers in eastern England who failed to come home from work safely spend Christmas and the New Year thinking of absent loved ones,” he said.

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“Hundreds of other workers who have had their lives changed forever by major injury will be experiencing difficulties of their own.

“When put into this kind of context, it is clear why health and safety in British workplaces needs to be taken seriously. I implore employers to tackle the real dangers that workers face rather than focusing on the trivial or mire themselves in pointless paperwork.

“My New Year wish is that we can reduce the number of deaths and major injury in 2013 and make the year ahead a happier one for many families.”

Suffolk saw two fatalities during the year to March 2012, one in Ipswich and one in Suffolk Coastal, compared with four in 2010-11.

However, the number of major injuries edged higher, from 300 to 307, and the number of injuries resulting in more than three days’ absence rose from 1,110 to 1,186.

In Essex, conversely, the number of fatal injuries jumped from four to 10. The Epping Forest and Thurrock local authority areas each saw three fatalities, with two in Colchester and others in Braintree and Brentwood.

However, the number of major injuries across the county fell from 652 the previous year to 597 and the number of accidents resulting in more than three days’ absence also dipped from 2,272 to 2,193.