Three people killed in Leeds workplaces last year

Leeds workplaces saw three people killed last year as campaigners warn the coronavirus crisis will see an increase in work-related fatalities.

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 11:45 am

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 three deaths occurred in a Leeds workplace last year – one worker and two members of the public.

These included a female member of the public aged 65 or over who was killed in an explosion and in an incident in the construction industry, a man aged 65 or over working in the services sector who was struck by a moving, flying or falling object and a male member of the public aged under 16 years old who drowned or asphyxiated, in an incident in the services sector.

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Three people were killed in Leeds workplaces last year

With two deaths the year before, it means there have been ten fatalities in the last five years.

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There were also 92 members of the public who were killed due to work-related activities in 2018-19, bringing the total figure to 239 for the second year in a row.

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 of 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."