U.K.: Safety Act Has Saved 5,000 Lives, Report Says

Since the Health and Safety at Work Act was enacted in 1974 in the United Kingdom, the workplace safety and health strategies and regulations that resulted from it have saved more than 5,000 lives, according to a performance report published by Great Britain's Health and Safety Commission (HSC).

The HSC report – "Measuring Up … Performance Report 2006" – also details the agency's efforts during the past year to reduce work-related fatalities, injuries and illness, including activities, initiatives and campaigns carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

"As a society, we've come a long way since 1974 when the current health and safety law was introduced and 600 people were regularly killed at work each year," HSE chairman Bill Callaghan said. "Our most recent fatal injury statistics show that the number has reached a record low of 212. This is encouraging, but we still need to do more."

The changing economy and the increasing number of migrant workers are key challenges, Callaghan also said. Still, he pointed out that Great Britain has the lowest fatal injury rate in Europe.

In addition to offering examples of the various initiatives, campaigns and strategies that have been implemented in recent years to improve health and safety at work, the 19-page document features information on HSE's work on regulating major hazards.

"I'm delighted by the work that the HSC/E, local authorities and all those who have an interest in improving workplace health and safety have done over the past year to improve standards for workers in Great Britain," Minister for Health and Safety Lord Philip Hunt said. "With over 5,000 lives saved by reductions in workplace accidents over the past 30 years, and as Britain enjoys the lowest rate of workplace fatalities in Europe, we clearly have much to be proud of."

The report can be accessed at http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/reports/performance.

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