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Worst in the North West: Manchester revealed to have highest rate of workplace injury across region

By Dominic Claeys-Jackson

Manchester is the North West’s worst local authority for workplace injuries, new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show.

In 2011/12, two deaths and 294 major injuries occurred in the city’s workplaces – as well as 1,167 injuries requiring three or more days’ absence.

Greater Manchester overall experienced nine workplace deaths, with 1,052 suffering major injuries and 4,086 suffering injuries requiring three or more days’ absence.

Just a minimal regional injury decrease from 2010/11, alongside a rise of seven deaths, has caused disappointment amongst health and safety figureheads.

Mike Nixon, of Manchester Occupational Health and Safety Group (MOHSG), said the flailing economy and government cuts were largely to blame.

“The recession and budget-cutting can often lead to cuts in health and safety training in many organisations – small and medium enterprises in particular – which will inevitably lead to a higher number of accidents,” he said.

“Current cuts to the HSE and local authorities severely restrict these activities and simplifying, amending or removing obsolete legislation detracts from frontline services.

“Offenders, if caught, are probably being punished severely enough, but the legal processes involved are very time consuming and costly.”

With just 57 major injuries and 238 injuries requiring three or more days’ absence, Bury had the lowest rate in Greater Manchester.

Of the ten boroughs, only Stockport, Tameside and Trafford experienced no deaths in the workplace during 2011/12, with Manchester and Oldham seeing two deaths each.

Mr Nixon added that businesses themselves must also work harder to ensure employee safety, claiming that some small companies even ignore legislation until tragedy strikes.

“In general, most good business owners take safety reasonably seriously, but ignore health related issues that result in over 12,000 deaths per year, such as asbestosis, cancer and emphysema,” he said.

“Health and safety legislation is important in order to protect employees’ lives; everyone would like to go home after a day’s work with all their digits intact and not suffering from exposure to fumes or dusts.

“What legislation we have in place is well-structured and, if applied sensibly, will help keep workers alive and well.”

A total of 173 workers were killed at work in Great Britain last year, compared to 175 deaths during 2010/11 – with more than 23,000 workers also suffering a major injury.

The high-risk industries of construction, agriculture, manufacturing and waste and recycling made up more than half of all workplace deaths in 2011/12.

David Snowball, HSE’s Director for the North, urged Greater Manchester’s employers to make worker safety their New Year’s resolution for 2013.

“Health and safety in the workplace needs to be taken seriously,” he said.

“I hope that in 2013 employers will tackle the real rather than the trivial dangers that workers face and not mire themselves in pointless paperwork so we can reduce the number of workplace deaths and major injuries.”

The HSE is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, aiming to reduce work-related death, injury and ill-health.

MOHSG is one of more than 70 voluntary local safety groups covered by charity Safety Groups UK, and currently have 138 members from companies, organisations and independents.

For information on tackling health and safety dangers in workplaces, visit www.hse.gov.uk or www.healthyworkinglives.com.

Picture courtesy of mtsofan, with thanks.

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