Face up to real dangers, employers told, as workplace deaths increase

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty
Share this article
Have your say

THE number of people killed while at work in Scotland rose by six last year, according to figures published yesterday.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that 20 people lost their lives at work in Scotland between April 2011 and March 2012, compared with 14 in the previous 12 months.

The greatest number occurred in the Highlands, where three people were killed at work.

The youngest worker to die was 23-year-old abattoir worker Alexander McCrae, who was crushed to death in November 2011, when the carcass of a cow fell on him.

The martial arts fanatic had only been working at the Sandyford Abattoir in Paisley, for a month and was planning a new life in Australia.

The oldest was 84-year-old John Reid, who was struck by a moving vehicle on a West Lothian farm last December.

Despite a rise in the number of fatal incidents, the number of major injuries sustained in Scotland fell by 420, from 2,660 to 2,240.

The largest number, for the second year running, were in Glasgow where there were 335 major injuries sustained, followed by Edinburgh with 187.

Another 7,447 Scotland workers suffered injuries which required at least three days off work in 2011-12. The figure was also down on the 7,667 recorded in 2010-11.

HSE – Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety – urged Scottish employers to prioritise workers’ safety in the new year.

David Snowball, its director for Scotland and Northern England, said: “Each year, instead of enjoying the occasion, families of workers in Scotland who failed to come home from work spend Christmas and the New Year thinking of the loved ones who are not there to enjoy it with them.

“Hundreds of other workers who have had their lives changed by major injury will be experiencing difficulties of their own.

“Health and safety in the workplace needs to be taken seriously. I hope that in 2013 employers will tackle the real rather than the trivial dangers that workers face and not mire themselves in pointless paper-work so we can reduce the number of workplace deaths and major injury.”

Across Britain, the number of deaths as a whole failed to show a significant fall in 2011-12.

A total of 173 workers were killed at work between April 2011 and March 2012, compared with 175 worker deaths during 2010-11. More than 23,000 workers suffered a major injury.

The latest provisional figures show that nationwide, on average, six in every million workers were killed while at work in 2011-12.

High-risk industries include construction, which had 49 deaths last year, agriculture with 33 deaths, manufacturing with 31 deaths and waste and recycling with five deaths

The figures will be finalised in June 2013 following any necessary adjustments arising from investigations, in which new facts can emerge about whether the accident was work-related.

However, Britain has the lowest rate of fatal injuries to workers among the five leading industrial nations in Europe – Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.