Call me back

‘Hazards At Work’ Response To Impending Reduced HSE Inspections

17th December 2013
In 2012, the Government announced it will introduce a statutory code from April 2013, which aims to make a 35 per cent reduction to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections for ‘low-risk’ businesses. Instead, the HSE will work with local authorities to identify industry sectors considered ‘low risk’ to make procedures more ‘straightforward’ for businesses to operate within a health and safety compliant environment deemed proportionate to potential risk.

In response to increased concern over the impending reduction in the number of workplace safety inspections, the TUC has published a new edition of their “Hazards at Work” safety publication, now in its 30th year. The latest edition, naturally enough condemns the current cost-cutting exercise, which raises legitimate questions over persistently high levels of workplace accidents and consequential injury compensation as a result of employer negligence.

“Hazards at Work” reports that the number of deaths in the workplace had increased by 16 per cent during 2010-11. HSE have also recently revealed that the highest risk of fatality and serious injury occurs in over half of industry sectors, such as agriculture, health care, road haulage, fabrication, quarries, plastics and electricity generation, where risk assessments and safety inspections are currently excluded.

According to RIDDOR, there was a total of 22,433 major injuries reported in 2011-12, the most common type of accident involving slips or trips (40 per cent), and falls from a height (14 per cent) while most common type of accident leading to more than a 3-day absence were caused by handling, lifting or carrying (32 per cent), and slips or trips (24 per cent). HSE also report that between April 2011 and March 2012, the total number of fatalities in the workplace had reduced - but only by 2 (from 175 to 173).

According to the TUC, rising injury figures will not be reversed “until there is a proper enforcement of health and safety law across all workplaces.” Between 2011 and 2012, the HSE prosecuted nearly 700 cases of a breach in health and safety regulations, around 80 per cent (more than 550) of which, occurred in England and Wales, and represented a rise of 6 per cent on the previous year.

The impact on future employer attitudes to health and safety compliance - such as the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, requiring employers to ensure a duty of care to their workforce - and the risk of prosecution within specific sectors, is unknown. We may yet see a steep rise in accident claims in the months and years ahead as procedures relax.