The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which oversees the implementation and enforcement of the Health and Safety Regulations, published its latest figures in October 2013. The headline figures were:

  • Fatal accidents in the workplace fell from 171 in 2011/2012 to 148 in 2012/2013
  • Major injuries in the workplace fell from 22,094 in 2011/2012 to 19,707 in 2012/2013
  • Changes in reporting requirements have provided no comparators for minor injuries to date
  • Self-reported, non-fatal injuries have fall by around a third over the past decade

While the figures reveal a significant fall in fatal accidents at work over the past year, extending the figures backwards shows that there is actually no significant trend in the last five years, with the rate of fatalities at work hovering at 0.5 to 0.6 per 100,000.

Figures regarding major injuries in the workplace, however, show a more positive trend, with cases falling year on year for the past five years from 27,894 cases in 2008/09, 26,268 in 2009/10, 24,944 in 2010/11, 22,094 in 2011/12 and 19,707 in 2012/13.

Statistics for minor injuries cannot clearly be demonstrated currently as reporting requirements changed in April 2012 from over-3-days incapacitation to over-7-days incapacitation, so we will have to wait to see whether this follows the trend of the major injuries. Self-reported injuries, however, show a significant decrease over the past decade, which was reflected in the previous figures on over-3-day incapacitation up to the final figures produced in 2011/12 , so it is hopeful that these may also show a positive trend.

William Broadbent, associate in Penningtons Manches' personal injury team, who deals with many cases involving workplace accidents, comments: “The figures show some encouraging trends for workplace safety which, we hope, is as a result of employers taking a more active role in ensuring their employees’ safety. The Health and Safety Executive is also doing invaluable work in encouraging workplace safety by way of initiatives and enforcement, and we hope this will continue to show positive results going forward.”

“Looking behind the statistics reveals that there are certain areas of work which obviously carry greater risks, such as manual labour and factory workers. However, improvement has been seen in these areas too, which is a positive sign. There is still further work to be done in all areas of work to ensure that all risks to employee are minimised.”