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Falls cost £99m in building and maintenance sector

04 February 2010

The HSE calculates that slips, trips and falls in the workplace took 40 lives last year and cost about £800m each year - £99m alone in building, construction and maintenance sectors.

In the building, construction and maintenance sector alone, there were 10 fatalities, 1,769 major injuries and a further 2,162 that resulted in workers having to take more than three days off work caused by slips, trips and falls throughout 2008-2009 – resulting in costs in excess of £99m. Costs which could have been avoided if the correct health and safety measures were put in place.
HSE figures show that slips and trips are the most common cause of major workplace injury in Britain. More workplace deaths are triggered by falls from height than any other cause, according to official statistics.
In addition to 40 fatalities, there were over 15,000 major injuries to workers, as well as over 30,000 workers having to take over three days off work.
The HSE is launching a new phase of its ‘Shattered Lives’ campaign, aimed at reducing slips, trips and falls in the workplace. The hard hitting campaign involves raising awareness of the impact of slips, trips and falls in the workplace and direct people to the new Shattered Lives website (www.hse.gov.uk/shatteredlives) for practical advice and guidance.
The campaign is targeted at those sectors with the highest number of incidents, specifically in health and social care, education, food manufacturing, food retail, catering and hospitality, building and plant maintenance, and construction.
On the new campaign website,  these is information on how to easily, and cost effectively, reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls in the workplace, and see what other organisations, such as Sainsbury’s and First Line Digital, have done. Included on the site is an online tool (STEP) and a work at height access equipment toolkit (WAIT). Advice ranges from how to deal with spills and other slip risks, to the importance of using ladders correctly to reduce the risk of falling from height.
Julia Evans, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders said: “The National Federation of Builders fully supports the Shattered Lives campaign which raises awareness of the costs and risks associated with slips, trips and working at height. NFB members have taken advantage of schemes such as the ladder exchange initiative and we would encourage other companies to visit the website and find out how they can help reduce the rate of accidents in their organisation and across the industry as a whole.”
Peter Brown, Head of the HSE’s Work and Environment Division, said: “These figures highlight the very real and serious nature of preventable slip, trip and fall incidents in the workplace. Slips, trips and falls might sound funny but they shatter the lives of thousands of British workers ever year. Making improvements doesn’t need to cost the earth and we are encouraging people to visit the Shattered Lives website, where they will be able to get simple and cost effective solutions to help manage slips, trips and falls hazards in their workplace.”
Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, said: “Every one of the 40 deaths caused by slips, trips and falls were preventable. The key is proper risk assessment and control measures as highlighted by the HSE. Unions will warmly welcome this practical hard-hitting campaign and will be raising the issue with employers wherever and whenever they can.”


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