06 Dec 2021 National Workplace Remembrance Day: Preventing Workplace Deaths
12th December 2021 will mark the third annual UK National Workplace Day of Remembrance.
On this day, we will take time to remember everyone who has lost their life at work. Whatever their job title, whatever their level of seniority, whatever their industry – this day is one to recognise and respect those who have lost their lives whilst contributing to our economy.
On 12th December itself, the day will be observed by many businesses in a range of industries throughout the country by flying their relevant Union flag at half-mast for the day and stopping work at noon to observe a minute’s silence.
In addition to observing the day in these suggested ways, an even more poignant and impactful way to commemorate this day of remembrance is to use it as a reminder. It’s time to take stock of your business’s current workplace accident prevention strategy and improve it.
The scope of accidental deaths at work
A total of 142 workers were killed in workplace accidents in the UK in 2020/21. Over half of fatal injuries in the workplace were in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and construction sectors but the waste and recycling sector is one of the most dangerous when the number of deaths is considered relative to employment numbers.
The main kinds of fatal accidents for workers in 2020/21:
The most common modes of accidental injury resulting in the death of UK workers in the last year were the following:
- Falls from a height
- Struck by a moving vehicle
- Struck by a moving object
- Trapped by something collapsing/overturning
- Contact with moving machinery
In addition to the 142 unfortunately fatal workplace injuries reported in 2020/21, thousands of other workers will have been injured or had their health affected by workplace accidents or conditions.
The Impact of workplace injuries
Even though workplace injuries that result in death are thankfully rare, an accident in the workplace can lead to multiple financial, physical and psychological consequences for your employee, their colleagues and your business.
To reduce the risks of workplace injuries all employers should take the following measures:
Create and distribute a health and safety policy
All businesses employing more than five people must have a written Health and Safety policy including how you manage safety, your commitment to ensuring employee safety, individual H&S responsibilities and the management of workplace activities.
Provide appropriate training for all employees
You must provide regular health and safety training for all employees and management to reduce the risk of workplace injury. Through investing in regular training, you will be promoting a positive and safe work environment for all, where all colleagues and managers are aware of their individual and collective responsibilities to keep themselves and each other safe from harm. Providing regular training is part of fulfilling your legal duties and due diligence.
Carry out Risk Assessments
Through extensive Risk Assessments, you will identify workplace hazards. The information revealed by risk assessments will help inform your decision making regarding who is at risk and how you can eliminate or control the risks within acceptable parameters.
When a risk assessment unveils a risk, you can respond to that risk by introducing safety measures like providing PPE (this being as a last option after all other control measures have been implemented) and mandating employees to use it correctly or reducing the number of people who can be onsite at one time.
You can help ensure employees are aware of hazards by displaying hazard specific warning signs. Ensure all employees understand what they mean and what precautions need to be taken – do not rely on people’s interpretation of signs, be sure to offer training and explicit guidance on their meaning.
Commit to regular inspection and maintenance of equipment and machinery
Maintenance is vital to ensure your equipment is safe and reliable. A competent employee must take responsibility for inspections and maintenance and recording this data.
Correctly record and report all workplace incidents
You are legally required to report certain work-related accidents under RIDDOR. These include:
- All work-related fatalities
- Work-related accidents resulting in serious injury or incapacitation
- Certain industrial diseases
- Near misses
- Accidents on site that involve workplace visitors or members of the public
Your people are your business’s most precious asset – invest in keeping them safe
Health and safety is about more than meeting legal obligations – it’s about honouring and respecting everyone who works for your business and protecting them from harm. 142 families in the last reporting year waved goodbye to a loved one as they went to work and never saw them again.
This National Workplace Remembrance Day, and every day, meet your legal and ethical obligations to keep safe the people who work for you. As health and safety training specialists and consultants we are happy to help. Get in touch