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Health and Safety report imageA recent review of statistics from the Health and Safety Executive has found that in the past 10 years, more workers in Scotland have died during their course of their employment than any other part of Great Britain. In the past decade 1,540 people have died at work, 231 of those have been in Scotland. This works out, on average, of one workplace fatality every two week in Scotland. These figures demonstrate that employers continue to fail to protect the safety of their employees while at work.

The highest rate of workplace fatalities occurred in the construction industry with an average of 36 deaths per year across the UK. This was closely followed by forestry, fishing and agricultural industry where, on average, 29 deaths occur each year. It is clear that industries involving machinery and manual labour remain some of the most dangerous working environments for employees therefore employers should be doing more to provide a safe system and place of work.

By comparison to Scotland, the North East of England saw the lowest fatality rate over the past decade with 39 workplace related deaths. While this is significantly lower than Scotland, any number of workplace deaths are too many. In order to considerably reduce the risk placed on those in working in industries with the highest rates of workplace deaths, employers require to invest more in their health and safety procedures and greater regulation is required to ensure employers comply with health and safety laws.

In addition to looking at the number of fatalities, the study also carried out  research regarding workplace training and health and safety. A quarter of those interviewed stated that they had not received any on-the-job safety training with 40% stating that they did not have awareness of their workplace health and safety procedures. The study, comprising of 2000 worker, found that 1 in 5 had been injured during the course of their employment. This clearly shows that lack of training and lack of awareness of procedures presents a risk of injury to workers. Employers have a duty to protect their employees, and this includes providing  them with the necessary tools and training to ensure they are adequately informed of the risks they face on a daily basis.

Each employer owes their employees a duty of care. This duty does not mean they have to protect the employee against every risk, it does however mean that they should be taking reasonable steps to prevent accidents and injuries which are considered to be foreseeable. For example, if a piece of equipment is faulty, and the employer is aware of this, they are under a duty to repair it. If they fail to make the necessary repairs, and an employee is injured or dies, the employer can be legally held responsible and a claim for compensation can be made. An employer should also ensure that an employee is provided with the correct training and tools to carry out their job. A failure to do so can also mean that they have acted in a negligent manner and they could be liable for any injuries caused as a result. At Thompsons, we deal with cases for clients on a daily basis who have been injured as a result of failures of their employer to protect them at work therefore we see first-hand the impact an accident at work can have on an individual.

Employees should not face a postcode lottery regarding their safety while at work. It should not be safer to work in the North East of England in comparison to working in Scotland – the regulations in place apply across the UK therefore those working North of the border should not face greater risks to their safety. Every workplace should provide employees with a safe place to work.

Blog by Eilish Lindsay, Associate

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