The Health and Safety Executive bases its accident statistics on a a piece of legislation called ‘The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995′(RIDDOR). Using the information provided under this regulation they can prepare very accurate statistics for injuries and fatal accidents in industry in the United Kingdom.
Overall the statistics are not that bad, 228 workers were killed in accidents from April 2007 and March 2008, this is less than 1 employee per day. This sounds like a large number until you consider that approximately 1,000 workers will be killed during the same period in at work road collisions. This figure is an approximation because RIDDOR specifically excludes accidents that occur on the roads. The reason they give on their website is that these accidents are covered by Road Traffic Legislation. The problem with this is that the requirement to identify at work journeys is a new thing and the Police are not as yet recording this fully.
The Police record a huge amount of data on something called STATS19, but the completion of these records can be a little haphazard. The number of accidents involving at work vehicles are not being accurately recorded so we do not know how many working days are lost to at work road collisions or even out of work road collisions. If someone has a whiplash injury they could be off work from anywhere between 2 days and 2 months, the business will lose money because of that injury but may not realise why that is.
If we include at work road collisions into RIDDOR we will at least get some accurate figures as to how many of our workforce in the UK are being killed and injured on the roads. Once we have this accurate data we will have a comparison against the existing data to work to. I would expect to find that the road is the most dangerous place to be as part of your work.
There are many ways to mitigate this risk and each employer will need to approach this issue in a manner that suits his own business model. At the very least each employer should check the driving licences of employees every six months and have a system to ensure that the vehicles are serviceable and roadworthy.
It is my personal opinion and that of a significant number of business owners and directors that, despite the workload it will create for the HSE, pressure should be brought to bear on the government and it must modify RIDDOR to include at work road accidents. I expect that in the near future employers and trade bodies alike will begin to lobby the politicians and demand some action on this.
It is in everyone’s interest to fully understand the size of the problem, but the best guess of 3 employees per day dying is very disheartening.