HSE releases 2018/19 health & safety figures: The key takeaways

The 2018/19 Health and safety statistics summary can be found on: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/

The HSE have released the annual health and safety figures for the year 2018/2019, and here are the key takeaways:

1. Work related ill-health cases are a mixed bag:

The cases for new and long-standing illnesses last year totalled 1.36 million; and this year’s figure is down ever so slightly (1.35 million); however work-related musculoskeletal disorder cases (498,000) are up from last year (470,000) by a large 28,000 cases.

Stress, depression or anxiety cases (which made up 44% of all illness cases last year and an almost identical 45% this year) are up by around 6,000 and are responsible for 54% of all working days lost due to illness this year. However, working days missed due to stress, depression or anxiety are 2.7 million less than last year; a significant improvement.

Overall, working days lost due to all work-related ill health are down by almost 3.5 million; however the annual total costs of illness to businesses (around £15 billion) has remained unchanged from last year.

2. Fatal injuries to workers have gone up:

In 2017/18 there were 141 worker fatalities and in 2018/19 the figure is up to 147, which is the joint highest figure for 6 years but slightly lower (149) than the ten-year average since 2009/10. However a downward trend still remains overall, with the latest ten-year average a full 56% lower than the previous decade’s average of 233 fatalities a year.

3. Workplace fatal injuries to members of the public have gone down:

Fatal injuries to members of the public have declined from last year, with the latest figure of 92 the lowest since 1996 and well below the 1999 to 2019 twenty-year average of 322* fatalities. In Europe as a whole, the UK still retains a lower workplace fatality rate than Germany, Italy, France and Spain – in fact the UK three-year average rate for 2013-2015 was the lowest of all EU member states.

*Major changes in 2013/14 and 2015/16 to what is included in public fatalities figures should be taken into account when interpreting these statistics.

4. Less people are getting injured at work:

This year there were 2,323 less non-fatal injuries than last year (69,208 injuries compared to last year’s figures of 71,531). This latest figure is the lowest recorded since 1985, and the rate of non-fatal injuries to workers has shown a long-term downward trend overall. As a result, 28.2 million working days this year were lost due to work-related ill-health and non-fatal injuries compared to 30.7 million days last year; a significant improvement.

5. The HSE prosecuted less cases this year

2017/18 saw 11,522 notices issued by enforcing bodies, 493 cases prosecuted (or referred to COPFS in Scotland) by the HSE, and £72.6 million in fines from such convictions; and 2018/19 saw slightly less issued notices (11,040), more than 120 less prosecutions (364) and £54.5 million in fines — £18.1 million less than last year. However, the average fine per case this year is similar to last year (£150,000 and £148,000 respectively), which indicates that the significant drop in fines is most likely a result of the fall in HSE prosecutions.


Bibliography

HSE (2019) ‘Health and safety statistics’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/ (accessed: 11/11/2019)

HSE (2019) ‘Workplace fatal injuries in Great Britain, 2019’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/pdf/fatalinjuries.pdf (accessed: 12/11/2019)

HSE (2019) ‘Kinds of accident statistics in Great Britain, 2019’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causinj/kinds-of-accident.pdf (accessed: 12/11/2019)

HSE (2019) ‘Historical picture statistics in Great Britain, 2019 – trends in work-related ill health and workplace injury’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/history/index.htm (accessed: 12/11/2019)

HSE (-) ‘European comparisons’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/european/ (accessed: 12/11/2019)

HSE (2019) ‘Health and Safety statistics in the United Kingdom, 2019’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/european/european-comparisons.pdf (accessed: 12/11/2019)

HSE (2019) ‘Enforcement statistics in Great Britain, 2019’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/enforcement.pdf

HSE (2019) ‘LFS – Labour Force Survey – Self-reported work-related ill health and workplace injuries: Index of LFS tables’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/lfs/index.htm#illness (accessed: 13/11/2019)

Safesmart releases Asset Management System

Asset Management, smartlog
Asset Management features barcode tagging & scanning, media attachments, bulk asset uploading and one-button reporting.

At the tail-end of July, Safesmart released an Asset Management system – the biggest update to Smartlog since the current version of Accident Reporting was introduced within the release of Smartlog 5 in September 2016.

Utilising an in-depth and interactive asset registering system and centralising compliance management are both desirable objectives for an organisation; especially in the education and healthcare sectors where regular government body inspections are carried out, and equipment, certificates and licenses have to be valid and up-to-date.

For no added cost to Smartlog customers, our Asset Management system achieves both the aforementioned objectives, providing vast monitoring capabilities in relation to overall compliance as well as asset value tracking – such as depreciation, damage, repair and item condemnation/write-off.

However because the management of assets/inventory does not consistently intersect with health & safety compliance, deficiencies within Asset Management will not be included in the ‘Checks & Tests’ facility on Smartlog – displayed separately instead within the Asset Management facility itself; but automated email alerts and hierarchical escalation remain.

Also featuring barcode scanning & tagging, media attachments, bulk asset uploading and one-button reporting; the facility has the capabilities and versatility to be utilised as a high-gear inventory control system or as a simple digital asset register.

You can read more about Asset Management here.

Health & Safety Compliance in the Digital Environment

‘Convergence Culture’

“Ready or not, we are already living in a convergence culture” declared Jenkins (Convergence Culture, 2006) during another period of booming technological advancement – notably the dawn of the smartphone age. In broader culture the term ‘convergence’ had already been borrowed from Biology, adopted in Economics, Mathematics and Computing; generally alluding to a theory that basically describes a phenomenon where some creatures living in the same environment – although unrelated to each other, will eventually morph into a similar structure independently or develop identical traits.

In Telecommunications Policy (1998) several authors describe technological convergence along the aforementioned biological lines: multiple functions/technologies predicted to eventually share the same platform either for necessity or to increase efficiency. Fast-forward more than 20 years and the digital landscape has not failed to live up to lofty predictions, with the modern internet certainly boosting the speed in which progress has occurred.

Currently it has become expected that almost every electronic device serves multiple functions. For example the wristwatch can now receive and make phone calls alongside serving as a digital running and exercise companion – surprisingly the (then lauded) Fitbit was only launched in 2010. However for Q3 of 2018, Apple’s Smartwatch leapfrogged Fitbit for second place in global shipments and market share, achieving a year-over-year growth of 54% compared to Fitbit’s 3.1% shrinkage; an impressive feat for a company merely incorporating a related activity into their ‘smartwatch’ platform – convergence reaping benefits.

Convergence Meets Compliance

Health & safety compliance has also experienced convergence, albeit at a slower pace than larger culture. Any potential advancements in the industry are of course expected to be subject to – and limited by health & safety legislation and regulations; and this is important because legislation (primarily the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974) created the government agency Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and gave them (to be more specific, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) broad powers in forming prosecutable health & safety regulations.

However the enhanced accessibility of up-to-date and indexed legislation online through the HSE’s information portals has meant that external consultation of health & safety law is in essence no longer needed. Realistically a medium to small company can compose its health & safety policy internally with minimal prior expertise. Along similar lines, the subject of data protection law which was passed as the GDPR in 2018 and the Data Protection Act of 1998 before that (addressed by Whenmouth previously here) has in practice converged with health & safety under the broad umbrella of compliance.

Compliance – or in this context: ‘regulatory compliance’, is simply about an organisation adhering to internal and/or external regulations for which incurred penalties range from a small fine to full-blown prosecution. So for example, a fire risk assessment and GDPR training for the organisation’s Data Protection Officer/s (both which are mandatory under current law) and tangible proof that these activities have been completed (eg. certificates) means that a singular system that logs, stores, and makes this proof immediately accessible trumps alternatively having multiple separate systems for this, especially for convenience and time-efficiency.

Increasing efficiency normally results in the reduction of business operating costs; and the emergence of software that has the capacity to incorporate various related activities under the compliance umbrella has been inevitable. Another example: Human Resources programs and Learning Management Systems (LMS) operate at different points along the compliance scale, but the desire to integrate related functions into a singular platform has seen the emergence and growth of software like Smartlog, which both manages compliance-relevant employee data and allocates mandatory e-learning courses to selected members of staff.

The Importance of a Core Competency

In order to successfully sell units, a highly capable product still needs credibility, especially one that has converged. Much like Apple’s branding retaining its credibility in the fitness and health watch market (as mentioned previously) or Samsung’s vast electronics experience massively contributing in their overtaking of Nokia as the market leader for mobile phone unit sales in 2012: a core competency is needed in order to retain any market credibility and successful integrate.

Amidst the integration of health & safety e-learning, risk assessment templates, site management alerts, logs, task allocation & monitoring, and (soon to be) asset management into Smartlog; Safesmart’s core competency lies in a history of fire safety engineering and consultations as well as an active fire risk assessment service that is up and down the country every week. It is a brand that puts fire safety at the top of the compliance pile, with the experience and expertise to back this up.

This is mainly because fire safety remains the heart of workplace health & safety, with 11,141 accidental non-residential fires attended by the Fire and Rescue services in England during 2017/18. These incidents resulted in 12 fatalities and 653 casualties with notably 2,245 (20%) of the fires occurred in offices/call centres, retail and hospitals/medical care; reinforcing both the ethical and legal need for all types of businesses to conduct a thorough fire risk assessment regularly.

Overall fire accident deaths only accounted for 8.3% of the 144 total workplace fatalities in 2017/18, however alongside the devastating personal injuries and losses of life, fire incidents by nature also more often result in copious amounts of property and asset damage of which very few businesses would be able to recover from financially.

Summary

According to HSE (2018) there has been a long-term downward trend in the rate of fatal injury per 100,000 workers since 1989, with the 2017/18 rate around a fifth (1/5) of the 1988/89 figures. So evidently workplace safety has improved over the years; and alongside the technological leaps and bounds in communications during the last couple of decades, improvements are also occurring in the delivery of health & safety compliance management and training, especially in regards to efficiency.

Convergence continues to drive innovations in the digital sphere and larger society, but with seemingly endless possibilities in the amount of different business management functions that can be potentially converged into a single platform, any limit will simply depend on the business and their compliance needs. But objectively some functions are more important than others, especially in relation to the law; which essentially means that across the board there is a one size fits all option.

Bibliography

Bohlin, E. (ed.)(1998) ‘Convergence and new regulatory frameworks: A comparative study of regulatory approaches to Internet telephony’ in ‘Telecommunications Policy Vol.22, Issue 10′. Elsevier

Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture. New York University Press

Forbes (2010) ‘Getting Fitbit’. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/2010/06/11/fitbit-tracker-pedometer-lifestyle-heatlh-lifetracking.html#124362215556 (accessed: 23/05/2019)

IDC (2018) ‘New Product Launches Drive Double-Digit Growth in the Wearables Market, Says IDC’. Available at: https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS44500418 (accessed: 23/05/2019)

Deloitte (-) ‘Regulatory & ethical compliance: Navigating through choppy waters‘ . Available at: https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/audit/articles/regulatory-and-ethical-compliance.html (accessed: 30/05/2019)

GOV.UK (-) ’Fire safety in the workplace’. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/fire-risk-assessments (accessed: 30/05/2019)

GOV.UK (2019) ‘Fire statistics data tables’(Fire 0301 sheet). Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fire-statistics-data-tables#non-dwelling-fires-attended (accessed: 28/05/2019)

HSE (2018) ‘Workplace fatal injuries in Great Britain 2018’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/pdf/fatalinjuries.pdf (accessed: 23/05/2019)

Does my business need to be compliant?

One of the first questions a business should ask in order to both a) abide with current law, as well as b) to keep employees aware of, and equipped against the variety of hazards that are often present in a work environment. Then after this it gets really complicated.

“What does the law say regarding _?”

“What mandatory information does my staff need to know regarding health and safety?”

“What is the best procedure in the event of an accident or incident at work?”

“How do we as a business best handle personal conflict between employees at work?”

Different workplaces present different challenges

Next, different parameters also have to be considered: which industry is your business in? And how many workers do you have? (The amount of employees affects what parts of the legislation begin to apply to your business).

Workforce Issues

And most, if not all of the time, compliance is simply a step towards safeguarding your employees and keeping a hazard-free work environment. For example RIDDOR reported 14 fatal work-related injuries in 2017/18 and according to the Labour Force Survey there were also over 600,000 non-fatal injuries to workers in the same period. Estimates also count around 13,000 deaths a year linked to past exposure of toxins at work – primarily chemicals or dust.

The general well-being of employees also affects productivity. For example HSE reports that in 2017/18 25.8 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health, as well as 15.4 million working days lost due to work-related mental health issues.

With your workforce’s physical and mental health to be considered in the day-to-day running of both small and large businesses alike, an in-depth understanding of your overall work environment in relation to the complex relationships individuals in an organisation might have to both each other and their physical environment is crucial to running a business successfully.

Therefore compliance becomes more than just abiding with the law, but using the knowledge and expertise of professionals in order to create a comfortable work environment for stakeholders in your business – unsurprisingly, positivity and professionalism can be sensed by your customers, especially if employees are confident in their own well-being and safety whilst at work.


Compliance training and relating procedures can be a timely process

Making the decision

Compliance of the law is therefore just another building block to a healthy work environment, but understanding one’s own specific needs is very time consuming. For example, between 2015/16 and 2017/2018 the education industry suffered the highest rates of stress, depression or anxiety at 2100 people per 100,000 (2.1%) when compared to average all industry rate of 1.3%; and additionally the causes of these issues range from the workload amount to workplace violence/threats or bullying.

Clearly nuance and care is needed in determining what best fits and works for your company, but thankfully there are specialist and knowledgeable advisors who can help you figure out your specific needs so you can take the next steps.

Who are we?

Safesmart is primarily a provider of an online management and compliance software called Smartlog, but we also offer consultancy on health and safety for small, medium and large businesses alike. Different industries have differing concerns and needs, ranging from an extensive risk assessment for a construction firm to booking a legionnaire awareness course for a small local pool for example; and budgets differ from company to company.

However Safesmart is tailored with this in mind; enabling a growing business to manage your premises, compliance, accident/incident reporting, and many more, on one portable and versatile platform – Smartlog. We are very affordable – competitively so, and ever-improving our customer’s capabilities within our software enabling them to have a dedicated health and safety compliance database and program, giving them less to worry about.

You can find out more here: https://safesmart.co.uk/

Sources:

HSE (2018) ‘Work related stress depression or anxiety statistics in Great Britain, 2018’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf (accessed 06/02/2019)

HSE (2018) ‘Work-related ill health and occupational disease in Great Britain’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/ (accessed 06/02/2019)

HSE (2018) ‘LFS – Labour Force Survey – Self-reported work-related ill health and workplace injuries: Index of LFS tables’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/lfs/index.htm#allillinj (accessed 06/02/2019)

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