It’s that time of year again. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have released their annual figures for 2012/13 and once again the numbers show a slight drop, this time down to 148 people killed at work. Which is good news, isn’t it? As health and safety professionals we can all slap each other on the back and reach for the champagne, right?
While on the one hand any decrease in the number of needless workplace deaths should be celebrated, I would argue those celebrations should be muted. Tempting as it is to look at the numbers and see success, it is vital that we remember the people behind those statistics. Real people, who went to work and lost their lives. 148 sons, daughters, husbands, wives and parents, who left the house one morning and never came home.
So excuse me if I don’t raise my glass just yet.
Elsewhere, the figures reveal more grim news. Again, while employer-reported and self-reported injuries are continuing along a downward trend (with the Labour Force Survey estimating self-reported non-fatal injuries having fallen by around one third over the past decade), instances of work related ill health still affect 1.1 million people, causing 13,000 deaths. 8000 of these occupational deaths were due to cancer, with more than half of these caused by past exposures to asbestos (either mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer). Tragically, this number is expected to continue to increase in future years before peaking towards the end of this decade. Whichever way you look at it, work related ill health remains the major problem in OS&H.
Every day at RoSPA, we strive to prevent injuries and save lives. While some may be content with the improvement that the latest numbers reflect, here they simply spur us on. To make workplaces safer. To banish work related sickness to the history books. To put an end, once and for all, to the misery and suffering that accidents and illness bring. Not for the sake of statistics. But for the ruined lives these numbers represent.
However – we are not alone in this mission. It is thanks to the support of our members that we are able to continue our valuable campaign work, fighting to make life safer and healthier for all. In return for this support we pledge our support to member organisations, offering you and your employees the chance to benefit from our 96 years of safety expertise.
So this year, when you open the papers and see that workplace fatalities have again dropped, I urge you to join us in looking beyond the headlines and remember the people we have yet to safeguard. We are on the right track, but we still have a long, hard road to travel.
Join us, together we’ll find a way.
To find out more about joining us as a RoSPA member, please visit our website here.
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