homeWednesday 24th April 2019

Council safety prosecutions drop

Tom Wall07/11/2012 - 13:00

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Falls from height can cause serious injury
Falls from height can cause serious injury

The number of safety offences prosecuted by councils has fallen by 31 per cent according to the latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics.

Provisional figures show local authorities prosecuted 195 offences in England and Wales between April 2011 and March 2012, a fall of 31 per cent on the previous year.

This contrasts with the HSE, which prosecuted 929 offences in England and Wales, an increase of 6 per cent on the previous year.

Chartered EHP David Gibson said the fall in prosecutions might be linked to staffing cuts and the ban on all but the most high-risk proactive inspections.

He told EHN: ‘Is it just a co-incidence that during this period there have been extensive staff cut backs at many councils? Or could this be linked also to the May 2011 joint guidance by HSE and local government regulation requiring that councils to stop all proactive inspections except those with the highest risk rating?’

He added that local authorities in England and Wales had only prosecuted 95 cases.

‘This looks a low number in comparison with the 551 cases brought by the HSE. Maybe this is indicative of local authorities adopting a lighter touch as they try to assist local business in hard economic times?’

Hilda Palmer from Hazards Campaign told EHN that the drop in prosecutions would put workers and the public at greater risk.

‘A drop of almost a third less prosecutions by local authorities for health and safety offences is a massive cause for concern, as prosecutions are part of maintaining a credible threat of enforcement to keep employers compliant with the law,’ she said.

She added that former employment minister Chris Grayling’s order to cut proactive council health and safety inspections by 33 per cent has had a negative effect

‘We demand a reversal of the proactive inspections ban, and of the drop in prosecutions, and for more resources to be provided for frontline local authority EHOs who protect us all from risks we cannot protect ourselves from,’ she said.

The HSE report says workplace injuries and ill health, excluding cancer, cost society more than £13 billion in 2010/2011.

It reveals 27 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury. The report estimates the number of deaths from occupational cancer is 8,000. Of those, 4,500 are due to asbestos exposure.

Other key points from the HSE statistical report include:

• 22,433 major injuries such as amputations, fractures and burns, to employees were reported - a rate of 89.90 injuries per 100,000 workers - compared with 24,944 in 2010/11. The average for the past five years is 27,170.

• 88,731 other injuries serious enough to keep people off work for four or more days were reported - a rate of 355.5 injuries per 100,000 employees - down from 91,742 the previous year. The average for the past five years is 103,627.

• An estimated 1.1 million people said they were suffering from an illness caused or made worse by their work, down from 1.2 million in 2010/11. Of these, 452,000 were new illnesses occurring in-year. The average for the past five years was 1.25 million with an average 554,000 new cases each year.

• 173 workers fatally injured - down from 175 the previous year. The average for the past five years was 196 worker deaths per year.

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2343 days ago
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Good point. We have changed the picture.

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2345 days ago
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I can only agree with almost every point that is made above. I think we all know the long term consequences of reduced inspections & enforcement actions that seem likely to result from the changes introduced by the Coalition? I am aware that in theory existing H&S resouces should be redirected or targeted better but in the real world those resouces will be cut altogether in many LAs despertae to show savings. My real point is that now is a time when it is vital that we all highlight the important role we play in protecting public and employee safety. We need to dispel the myth that we are clip board wielding beuarocrats pestering low risk premises. So, please CIEH explain to me why this interesting article in accompanied by a person writing on a clip board out side a florist?? We CIEH and EHN do not give such images a thought what hope is there?

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