Towards the end of last year, the HSE published its latest statistics on work-related health and safety in Great Britain.
Among the headlines were:
- 229 workers were killed at work, a rate of 0.8 per 100,000 workers.
- Targets previously set for reducing the incidence rate of fatal and major injury are currently being met. The 10-year “Revitalising Health & Safety” target set by the Government in 2000 provided for a pro rate target for 2007/2008 of an 8% reduction, whereas the actual incidence in 2007/2008 represents a 9% reduction. Similarly, the Public Service Agreement 3-year target of a 3% reduction to 2007/2008 has been met.
- The HSE prosecuted 565 cases (alleging 1,137 individual breaches), securing at least one conviction in 95% of the cases. The number of cases prosecuted by the HSE was marginally down on the previous year. This reduction might be related to a gradual decrease in the number of operational HSE inspectors between 2004 and 2008 from 1,483 to 1,238. However, the HSE Chairman, Judith Hackitt, has recently confirmed that the HSE is in the process of recruiting back to a higher level.
- Around half of the offences prosecuted by the HSE related to breaches of HSWA. Regulations which featured heavily in the remainder were PUWER, Work at Height, Gas Safety (Installation and Use) and Management of Health and Safety at Work.
- Local authorities prosecuted 156 cases (alleging 354 breaches), securing a conviction rate of 97%. The number of cases prosecuted by local authorities has risen from the previous year.
- The number of enforcement notices issued by all enforcing authorities was down to 13,750 from 15,234 the previous year.
- If exceptional fines of £100,000 and over are excluded, the average penalty per offence in an HSE prosecution was £7,809. This is the second highest on record, albeit less than the previous year. The average fine per successful prosecution case is around £20,000.
- Of the 266 exceptional fines of £100,000 and over that have been ordered in health and safety prosecutions in the 33-year period between January 1975 and February 2009, there were 37 in the last 11 months. Each of the past three years has brought with it 35 or more exceptional fines, although in the past two years we have not seen any fines near the level of the five highest fines on record (ranging between £2M and £15M) which were imposed between 2004/2005 and 2006/2007.
The HSE’s statistics can be accessed via the following link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/index.htm