Health and Safety Executive (HSE) warning against employers despite fall in Ely workplace injuries

URGENT improvements are still needed in employee health and safety despite a dramatic fall in the number of workplace injuries in Ely.

Major injuries in East Cambridgeshire fell from 61 last year to 48 in 2009/2010.

The district also recorded 20 fewer less serious injuries but Health and Safety Executive (HSE) chairman Judith Hackitt warned: “Every statistic represents an individual or a family which is now suffering as a result of health and safety failings at work.

“These statistics remind us yet again of the significant gains which are yet to be made in reducing the harm caused to people’s health by work.

“We know what good practice looks like but there remain significant areas of poor practice which still result in serious harm to people at work.”

Heather Bryant, regional director for the HSE in the East of England, which covers Ely, said the figures are “a step in the right direction”.

“Conversely these figures show there are still numerous cases where the health and safety of workers is still not being taken seriously,” she added.

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“It is not trivia. Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees. Health and safety needs to be at the very heart of the business and not seen as an add-on, tick-box exercise at best or an unnecessary burden at worst.”

Prosecutions include action against EPR Ely Ltd, in Sutton, for health and safety failings earlier this month, when worker Gary Darnell was crushed to death by a falling bale of straw.

Ms Bryant added: “We will continue to target those who fail to meet the standards that employees have a right to expect and put people at real risk.”

Earlier this year St John Ambulance called for more employees to become health and safety experts in rural parts of Cambridgeshire.

With many small and medium-sized businesses in the area, training co-ordinator David Cunningham warned: “These organisations often do not have the budget to employ a full-time health and safety officer.

“In these situations, the owners of the company need to have a basic knowledge about the minefield that is health and safety.”