Workplace deaths could be on the rise in Milton Keynes, warn experts

Milton Keynes workplaces saw one person killed last year, figures show, but campaigners warn the coronavirus crisis will see an increase in work-related fatalities.
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The Health and Safety Executive said this week's International Workers’ Memorial Day was a key moment to remember the almost-150 workers who died doing their jobs across Britain in 2018-19.

But the Trades Union congress has predicted the coronavirus pandemic will cause a spike in workplace fatalities, as it emphasised the “vital” need to record any deaths caused by a lack of personal protective equipment as work-related.

HSE statistics show one deaths occurred in a Milton Keynes workplace last year – one worker and no members of the public.

One person was killed in the workplace in MK last yearOne person was killed in the workplace in MK last year
One person was killed in the workplace in MK last year

A man working in the services sector was killed when he was trapped by an object falling on him.

With no deaths the year before, it means there have been three fatalities in the last five years.

The 147 workers who died in British workplaces is an increase of four per cent on the year before, but safety campaigners the Hazards Campaign estimate the true number of work-related deaths each year to be 50,000 once illnesses caused by working conditions and suicides attributed to work-related stress are included.

Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary, said: "To reduce work-related deaths, we need to start with better official statistics that do not underestimate annual fatalities.

“Without accurate information, it is harder to target the areas where new health and safety policy, or stronger enforcement is needed.

"Sadly the next annual statistics will be much higher, due to the coronavirus. It is vital that all fatalities that followed workplace safety failures, such as lack of personal protective equipment, are reported as work-related deaths.

“If the true impact is not acknowledged, important actions may not be taken to be better prepare workplaces for future pandemics."

The average annual number of people killed at British workplaces since 2014-15 is 142, with construction the most dangerous industry.

Last year saw a record low 30 workers die in the industry however, meaning it was surpassed by agriculture, forestry and fishing, with 32.

But at a rate of 0.53 deaths per 100,000 workers across the UK, the country is behind only Cyprus in the EU for workplace safety, according to the statistical body Eurostat.

An HSE spokeswoman said it is too early to say how significantly work-related fatality rates will be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but paid tribute to the frontline healthcare workers who are taking on additional risk during this time.

She added: "We are continually reviewing the fast-moving situation with our partners across government to support the national effort to tackle coronavirus. We understand this is an extremely worrying time for firms and workers.

“International Workers’ Memorial Day was a key moment for our organisation to recognise those who died doing their jobs, and has always reminded us of our purpose."