Employers across the West Midlands have been told to improve workplace safety after new statistics showed 13,106 people were killed or injured at work in the region in 2008/09.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), last year more than 250 work-related incidents occurred across the West Midlands each week.
In all, 12 people were killed at work across the region – down from 22 the year before – while 2,634 sustained major injuries, a slight decrease.
In 2007/08 there were 2,693 major injuries and 11,353 cases requiring more than three days’ absence. The HSE hopes these will act as a stark reminder to employers and staff to make their workplaces safer this New Year and drive down casualty rates.
The figures equate to 2.7 million working days lost in the region at a massive cost to the economy and individual businesses, which is why HSE says it makes perfect sense to make working environments safe.
The organisation warns that if employers insist on compromising the health of their employees then it will not hesitate in taking enforcement action.
Last year HSE prosecuted 119 offences committed by West Midlands firms for breaching health and safety legislation and took action against hundreds more by issuing prohibition and improvement notices.
Rosi Edwards, the HSE’s West Midlands regional director, said: “Behind these statistics are the real-life stories of hundreds and thousands of people and families dealing with real hardship, pain and suffering.
“The New Year is an opportune time to reflect on the number of incidents in the past 12 months, and decide to try to stop the same patterns being repeated.
“Slips, trips and falls from height are consistently the chief causes of death and serious injury.
“Many of these injuries are entirely preventable. We urge businesses to take practical action to manage the risks people face in their day-to-day work.”
Britain has one of the best health and safety records in Europe but with 180 workplace deaths nationally last year, HSE says there is still much to be done.
Ms Edwards said: “Every employee has the right to return home from work safely and in good health each day. I’m sure employers in the West Midlands share that view.
“There are straightforward practical things they can do to prevent injury and ill-health at work: when they carry out risk assessments use them to decide what action they need to take – and do it. If they make sure their workers get involved in assessing the risks and working out how to carry out the task safely, they will understand what they have to do and why. Workers also need to be properly trained for the work they have to do. HSE works with a number of partners to provide free advice and education to those both carrying out and managing work. We want businesses and the self-employed to work with us to help reduce injuries and make the West Midlands a safer place to work.”