The HSE has published its latest annual injury and ill health statistics, which show that whilst Britain remains one of the safest countries to work in, efforts must still be made to drive down figures. In 2016/17, 1.3 million workers suffered from work related ill-health and 609,000 workplace injuries were reported.
Whilst there has been little year-to-year change relating to rates of occupational ill health in recent years, there was a marked increase in people who reported suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the last year. The figure is the highest in the past 16 years. It rose to 7% when compared to those collected in 2015-16 and significantly to 16% when compared to 2014-2015 results. The data shows a rate of 1610 per 100,000 workers are suffering from stress. This makes stress the most widespread type of work related illness, for the first time overtaking even musculoskeletal disorders. In contrast, the rate of workplace injury dropped to its lowest since the earliest date in the HSE’s datasets 2001-02.
In line with the new Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences Definitive Guidelines introduced to England and Wales in 2016, although there were fewer prosecutions in 2016/17, fines increased from £38.8 million in 2015/16 to £69.9 million in 2016/17. Merely twenty big fines made up £30.7 million of the cumulative figure.
The top line statistics related to topics such as: fatal injuries, of which there were 137 in Britain’s workplaces, injuries reported by employers of which there were 70,116, lung disease deaths due to previous exposures at work amounting to 12,000 and the number of prosecutions of which there were 554 cases.
The data was compiled from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and other sources such as the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) and specialist physician and general practitioner reporting via the Health and Occupation Research network (THOR).
The HSE estimated that new cases of ill health and workplace injury cost Britain £14.9bn a year with 31.2 million working days being lost. The HSE’s findings mimic those published by the Government in their ‘Thriving at Work’ mental health review that called on the HSE to revise its guidance and become more proactive at addressing stress and mental ill-health in the workplace.