Small businesses hit out over health and safety appeal

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Bedfordshire small businesses have hit out at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after figures showed there were three deaths and 122 major injuries in workplaces in the county in 2012-2013.

The county branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) believes that the HSE in the East of England is in danger of tarring all employers with the same brush.

The appeal from the HSE comes as new figures show that 16 people lost their lives while at work across the East of England in 2012/13 and 1,923 suffered a major injury. This compares to 19 deaths and 2,116 major injuries the previous year.

In Bedford Borough there were three deaths and 66 major injuries in 2012/13.

High-risk industries include construction which had 39 deaths last year, agriculture with 29 deaths, manufacturing with 20 deaths and waste and recycling with 10 deaths – making up over two-thirds of all workplace deaths in Great Britain during 2012/13.

In the appeal Annette Hall, HSE regional director for the East of England said: “The families of those workers in the East of England who lost their lives last year had to face Christmas without them and hundreds of other workers have had their lives changed forever by a major injury.

“Whilst the number of workplace deaths and major injuries has decreased nationally, these statistics highlight why we still need good health and safety in workplaces. I therefore urge employers to spend their time tackling the real dangers that workers face and stop worrying about trivial matters or pointless paperwork.

“It’s important to remember that while we still have one of the lowest rates of workplace deaths in Europe, one death is still one too many. I would urge businesses to focus on helping to cut the number of deaths further in 2014.”

Damian Cummins, vice chairman of Bedfordshire FSB, said: “Our thoughts go out to all those and their families who are injured or killed at work. We must all work together to reduce risks at work, especially in agriculture and construction.

“But what got my back up were comments from Annette Hall, the HSE regional director for the East of England, that suggested employers didn’t work hard enough to reduce the risks.

“One of her quotes was to “urge employers to spend their time tackling the real dangers that workers face and stop worrying about trivial matters or pointless paperwork”, which is demeaning to all employers.

“The HSE should focus its efforts on making friendly contact with business leaders to get its messages out to the vast majority of small businesses who only want to do the best for themselves and their employees who are often family members.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging businesses to focus on their legal responsibility to ensure lives are not put at risk and make the safety of workers their top priority for 2014.

Information on tackling health and safety dangers in workplaces is available on HSE’s website at

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