As every year, the HSE have published new statistics. The 2012/2013 statistics have just been released and at first glance, they are good! They are always eagerly anticipated as they give us an indication of how safely we are performing on a national & international scale. It is nice to know that we are the third safest country in the EU, just behind Netherlands & Slovakia. Compared to the EU it is surprising that actually France and Germany are quite low down on the performance list.
Statistics are always debatable and really it is all down to how they are presented that has an impact to whether they are digested or not. What we continually do with HSE statistics is only focus on one main statistics – Fatality. The opening email from the HSE has the headline “New figures released indicate the number of workers killed in Britain last year has fallen to the lowest rate on record”. We seemed to be obsessed to the fatality issue, which I must say is an important statistic, and should be a high concern. However dive a little further into the statistics and you find a very sinister issue:
Here are some of the snippets from the document:
Workplace injuries and ill health (excluding cancer) cost society an estimated £13.8 billion in 2010/11 (based on 2011 prices).
1.1 million people who worked during the last year were suffering from an illness (long-standing as well as new cases) they believed was caused or made worse by their current or past work. 0.5 million of these were new conditions which started during the year.
A further 0.7 million former workers (who last worked over 12 months ago) were suffering from an illness which was caused or made worse by their past work.
There are currently around 13 000 deaths each year from work related diseases.
Hold on a moment!!! 13,000 Deaths (fatalities) each year from diseases, from work? Injuries and ill health cost over £13.8 billion, of which none of that money is for cancer? 1.1 Million people suffer a long standing illness from work, of which 500,000 extra people in one year?
Wow, now let’s look at this for a moment. 133 Workers killed whilst at work, but over 13,000 workers died from ill health (contracted ill health from work) but died whilst away from work. That’s the facts of this report. £13.8 billion was spent on those ill health issues. This is crazy, yes 133 workers do not deserve to go to work and die, however nor do the other 13,000 workers deserve to go to work to contract a life ending illness.
I really believe that we are missing the point with Health & Safety currently and it is a view that is shared by many H&S professionals. The HSE have started to tackle the ill health issue in the country but it will be a long time before we start to see the impact of better, healthier staff. A loooooong time.
The HSE statistics can be found in full here.
Are you doing enough for the health of your staff?