The second Draft International Standard (DIS2) of ISO 45001 is expected to be released for comment in January 2017. With a global focus on this new international standard for Occupational Health and Safety, we decided to have a look at some Health and Safety statistics for Ireland and the UK in relation to major pieces of Health and Safety legislation that have come into force over the last 30 plus years.
Regardless of your location, all organisations must adhere to at least one major piece of Health & Safety legislation. In the United Kingdom, the main piece of Health and Safety Legislation is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and in Ireland the chief piece is the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. Statistics released for 2015/2016 have shown a downward trend in work related injuries, illnesses and fatalities in Ireland and the UK. According to research conducted by Eurostat, UK organisations in comparison with their European counterparts are more likely to have health & safety policies in place which are followed up with formal risk assessments.
In Ireland, there has been a large increase in the estimated number of days lost across the economy due to work related illnesses from 792,875 in 2013 to 1.1 million in 2014. It is worth noting that the number of short-term illnesses has declined but the average duration of absences has lengthened and the number of long-term illnesses increased. The sectors with the highest rates of illnesses include:
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing
- Health and social work
- Public Administration and Defence
A total number of 56 work-related fatal injuries were reported to the HSA in 2015 with the highest numbers coming again from the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector with 24 deaths, this was followed by the construction industry which saw 11 deaths in 2015. Comparatively, there were 7,775 non-fatal injuries reported to the HSA in 2015. 19% of these injuries occurred within the health and social care sector which was closely followed by 18% in the manufacturing industry. Up to one third of injuries received were due to incorrect manual handling practices. To reduce the number of manual handling related injuries, firms should invest time in ensuring that all employees are trained to correct manual handling practices as Part 2, Chapter 4 of the General Applications Regulations 2007 requires employers to designate a competent employee or engage a competent person to assist them in providing effective manual handling to their staff. This regulation requires every employer:
- To take appropriate measures to avoid manual handling, where manual handling cannot be avoided, to take appropriate measures to reduce the risk.
- To organise workstations
- To ensure that employees who are involved in manual handling receive information, instruction and training on safe manual handling.
Looking at some UK statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) the downward trend has continued, there were 144 fatalities while at work which is 7% lower than the average for the past five years and 1.3 million work related illnesses in 2015/16. This lead to a total of 30.4 million working days lost due to work-related illnesses and non-fatal workplace accidents. The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) requires organisations in the UK to report fatal and non-fatal work-related accidents to the relevant enforcing authority, in this case the HSE.
Organisations have a legal duty to put suitable arrangements in place to ensure the health and safety of all their employees. Organisations should use the Plan, Do, Check, Act approach when devising and managing Health and Safety policies to ensure that policy and performance are consistently being monitored and revised on an on-going basis.
So how does your organisation stand up? Have you a health and safety policy in place? Does your organisation report fatal or non-fatal work related accidents to the relevant authority? Do you adhere to at least one major piece of health and safety legislations or are you working towards implementing ISO 45001 when it is eventually published late in 2017?