Workplace safety ‘wake-up call’

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Employers in Cornwall “must do more” to cut the number of accidents in the workplace, as it’s revealed the south west has one of the worst records in the country, according to Coodes Solicitors.

Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that, on average, 66,000 workers in the south west suffer a non-fatal workplace injury every year, which is 33% higher than the national figure.

Lawyers at Coodes say that for every 100,000 workers in the region, more than 2,300 people are injured and 18 workers were fatally injured in the south west in 2021/22.

As part of World Day for Safety and Health at Work (Apr 28), Coodes’ personal injury team has teamed up with Newquay-based Osprey Health and Safety to raise awareness of the issue and encourage employers to take immediate action to improve their health and safety measures.

They are calling on employers to review their training and risk assessments, safety procedures, personal protective equipment and ensure there is more comprehensive recording of accidents in the workplace.

This year the International Labour Organisation marks its 20th anniversary of World Day for Safety and Health at Work – a campaign promoting safe, healthy, and decent work supported by governments and organisations, including here in the UK.

Every year, in the south west, 523,000 days are lost because a worker suffers an accident and must take time off, away from the business. Injuries affecting muscles and skeleton including bones, joints, tendons and muscles and the back account for the highest number of reported accidents in the region.

Industries that have higher rates of workplace accidents include construction, agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation involving heavy machinery or equipment, working at heights, and being exposed to hazardous materials and chemicals.

Demelza Pallant, personal injury solicitor at Coodes, said: “The figures are incredibly sobering, they should be a real wake-up call to both employers and employees working across all industries in the region.

“One workplace injury is one too many and clearly there is much more that can be done to bring this number down further. Employers should take a really proactive approach to health and safety, but everyone has a role to play. Only then will this alarming picture be improved.”

According to latest estimates, in the south west there are 189,000 workers suffering from an illness which has been caused or made worse by their work. The data also shows that the rate of work-related illness in the region is 25% higher than the national average.