36 Million Lost Days Sour British Safety Leaders

Releasing 2006-07 workplace safety statistics today that U.S. safety counterparts can only dream of reporting, the heads of Britain's Health and Safety Commission and its OSHA agency, the Health and Safety Executive, said it's time for UK employers to stop kidding around about safety. The 241 occupational deaths during the past year were too many, the 2.2 million workplace illnesses aren't acceptable, and the 36 million lost days (30 million attributed to occupational illnesses, 6 million to workplace injuries) are devastating, HSC Chair Judith Hackitt and HSE CEO Geoffrey Podger said.

Podger pointed out that HSE issued 20 percent more citations and more than $27 million in fines against employers (a figure OSHA nearly equaled with its $21 million penalty against BP for its Texas City refinery explosion.)

"Never mind banning conkers or Christmas decorations; look at these figures. This is what real health and safety is all about," Hackitt said today. "The figures also show that where we have intervened with all industry partners, together we have and can make a difference. We want to continue this. We must remember that with each injury or fatality there is a personal cost and suffering attached, and we all therefore need to focus on the real health and safety agenda, not the trivia."

The statistics said 646,000 occupational illnesses were added in the past 12 months, for a rate of 2,100 per 100,000 workers. Mesothelioma killed 2,037 people during the year. Days lost per worker are not falling as fast as the safety authorities desired. HSE prosecuted 1,141 safety offenses, and 257 more were prosecuted by local authorities during the year.

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